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Artist’s impression of a kilonova caused by a neutron star merger. In the material released by the merger, various heavy elements are formed, which then absorb and emit light. New atomic data calculations help to clarify kilonovae. Credit: National Astronomical Observatory of Japan

Understanding the cosmic origins of heavy elements

Atoms and ions can absorb and emit certain colors of light. By analyzing the detailed colors of inaccessible objects, like high-temperature plasmas in a...