We all have stars in our eyes. And in our hearts, our fingers … right down to our toes.
And we all may have come from a galaxy far, far away.
A groundbreaking new study suggests that half the atoms that make up the human body literally sailed here from beyond the Milky Way.
These atoms, researchers at Northwestern University say, were violently vented into space from exploding stars, or supernovae, in other corners of the universe. Hurtling at astounding velocities, they may have escaped the gravitational clutches of their own galaxy.
Could these atoms have made the journey from countless years away to our neck of the universe?
The answer may be blowing in the galactic wind.
'Stolen' from the winds of other galaxies
After poring over 3-D models of evolving galaxies, the Northwestern team concluded that atoms likely hitched a ride on galactic winds — hyper-charged gases that race at hundreds of miles per second. Even at that pace, it would have likely taken these vast clouds — trillions of tons of atoms — eons to blow our way.
But then again, galaxies have nothing but time.
Considered a celestial senior citizen, the Milky Way was likely formed around 13 billion years ago. Its building blocks were long thought to be continually recycled elements — hydrogen and helium mostly — from the violent demise of local stars.
And so, too, our own biological building blocks were born from celestial ashes. But, it turns out, many of those stars may have perished in distant galaxies.
"We did not realize how much of the mass in today’s Milky Way-like galaxies was actually 'stolen' from the winds of other galaxies," study co-author Claude-André Faucher-Giguère told New Scientist.
The theory is that galactic winds helped push speeding 'stardust' from their own galaxies into bigger neighboring ones, where they were recruited for the factory of creation.
"All organic matter containing carbon was produced originally in stars," Chris Impey, an astronomer at the University of Arizona, told LiveScience back in 2010. "The universe was originally hydrogen and helium, the carbon was made subsequently, over billions of years."
It not only lends a certain prescience to that classic Moby song about how we’re all made of stars — but also credibility to the idea that aliens are among us.
In fact, they are us.