Hunting for Ultra-Heavy Elements in Asteroids


Asteroids hold quantities of rare metals that sank into Earth's core early on. Small asteroids have accessible deposits, making them attractive.

Ultra-Heavy Elements  

Elements beyond uranium would be a huge discovery. But most have short half-lives, decaying quickly after formation. 

Theoretical Island of Stability

Models suggest a region of stable heavy nuclei around element 114. But expected half-lives are under a century.  

Elements Detected on Earth

No elements beyond uranium have been found naturally on Earth. Evidence in meteorites is controversial.

Elements in Asteroids

A new study claims asteroid Polyhymnia may harbor superheavy elements based on its calculated high density. But data is limited.

Density Estimate

Polyhymnia's density estimate is considered unreliable. No observations confirm superheavy elements are present.

Psyche Heads

Psyche will study asteroid worth quadrillions in rare metals, but likely no ultra-heavies. 

JWST observing the Kuiper Belt