All humans are brothers. They came from the same supernova.

─ Allan Sandage (1926 - 2010)

My gut (not a physicist) says not very likely at all.

That being said, he was probably referring to the creation of the solar system, Earth, etc.


This is actually an interesting question that directly links to my current research. I work on turbulent mixing of chemical elements in various cosmic gas phases (the interstellar medium, circumgalactic medium, intergalactic medium, etc.), and it turns out that supernova pump enough energy into the interstellar medium to highly mix the gas before new stars form.

Most of the metals (stuff we are made of) in the Universe come from supernova explosions. These explosions not only deposit metals into the interstellar medium, but also a lot of energy (outshines the entire host galaxy). While it is possible that we all came from the same supernova, the amount of mixing (and down to what scale) in the interstellar medium is uncertain at this point in time. Although we do know that the interstellar medium is highly turbulent (supersonic turbulence!), so it should be well-mixed over short-ish timescales.

If the mixing continues to small enough length-scales, the stars that form out of the gas will have contributions from many supernova explosions.

  • $\begingroup$ "Most of the metals (stuff we are made of)..." So... what constellation are you guys from and what is your mission on the Earth? ;) Sorry, couldn't resist :) Now, a serious question. Our Sun is a new star formed from a huge cloud of the primordial hydrogen. With the violent mixing you are describing, how is it possible for this cloud to not mix with the supernova debris? And also what kept this cloud from collapsing into a star billions of years earlier? $\endgroup$ – safesphere Feb 2 '18 at 10:06
  • $\begingroup$ Doug, would you like to quantify "most of the metals". My understanding is that whilst certainly some chemical elements might be mostly produced by supernovae (iron-peak elements and alpha elements), plenty of others are not. Also, my limited understanding is that there is plenty enough mixing in the ISM to definitively answer this question and also evidence from other source (pre-solar grains) that give an unambiguous result. $\endgroup$ – Rob Jeffries Feb 5 '18 at 18:41

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.