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Answered 2010-05-02 02:45:43

It is the elements heavier than iron that are formed in a supernova. All the heavier elements up through uranium appear when a star of sufficient mass collapses in a supernova event. These heavier elements, sometimes referred to as the trans-iron elements, appear in the collapse of a massive star. In this catastrophic event, the iron and silicon (and any other lighter elements) in the star are super compressed. The already hot conditions are made even hotter, and the available energy is sufficient to drive the fusion reactions that create the trans-iron elements.

All the fusion reactions up through those that create iron are exothermic, and that means they release energy. The fusion reactions that create the trans-iron elements are endothermic, and that means energy has to be put into them. Only in the collapse of a star of sufficient mass is there enough energy to drive the fusion reactions that produce the trans-iron elements.

See Periodic Table (iron is number 26).

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