The gold exploration companies are looking for comes from the collision of a pair of neutron stars 80 million years before the solar system was formed.

Writing in a paper for Nature, Imre Bartos and Szabolcs Marka posit the theory that the vast majority of gold, uranium and other heavy elements found in our Solar System resulted from a single nearby neutron star merger billions of years ago.

What’s more, that collision created enough gold to fill every square inch of the earth’s oceans.

Neutron stars are the collapsed cores of giant stars. Excepting black holes, they are the most dense objects in the Universe — one teaspoonful of its material would have a mass of 5.3 billion tonnes, about 900 times more massive than the Great Pyramid of Giza.

The lighter elements on the periodic table are fused in normal stars, like those of our sun or larger.

But the creation of the heavier elements remained a mystery until 2017, when the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) detected gravitational waves from the merger of two neutron stars, almost exactly 100 years of Albert Einstein predicted their existence.

Those results showed that heavier elements like gold were born in the aftermath of neutron star mergers.

Now, scientists have tracked the origin of those heavier elements present in our Solar System to a merger event that happened some 80 million years before the Solar System was formed, within 978 . light years.

“Abundances of short-lived r-process isotopes in the early Solar System point to their origin in neutron-star mergers, and indicate substantial deposition by a single nearby merger event,” the authors said.

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