A team of scientists from Spain found a very valuable lithium mine – the so-called white gold – at a relatively short distance from Earth: about 17 light years.
The site in question where such a lithium deposit is found is Reid 1B, a brown dwarf. Contextualized, brown dwarfs are stars that could have been suns, but that maintain a temperature low enough not to burn hydrogen – the fuel that stars use to shine – but above all, to keep their lithium deposits intact.
According to experts, Reid 1B is home to 13,000 times more lithium than Earth and a considerably higher portion than is estimated to be on Jupiter, the second richest repository for “white gold” in our Solar System.
Researchers from @IAC_Astrophysics and the @inaoe_mx have discovered an ancient #dwarfbrown that preserves intact its deposits of #lithium. In the study they have used #OSIRIS of the @GTCtelescope at #ORMLaPalma
🖼️ SMM (IAC) pic.twitter.com/zllNaJLEvj
& mdash; IAC Astrophysics (@IAC_Astrophysics) November 24, 2021
Lithium is an extremely valuable mineral for contemporary technological developments. The most relevant application is its use to create batteries, key in the energy transition from fossil fuels to clean energy. Bolivia is the country with the largest proven lithium reserves, and for this reason, former President Evo Morales suggested that powers that be overthrew him.
The finding in question was achieved thanks to observations of the OSIRIS instrument of the Gran Telescopio de Canarias, in Spain. To achieve this, the scientists made highly sensitive spectroscopic observations towards Reid 1B.
Carlos del Burgo Díaz, author of the study that reports the finding published in the scientific journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, equates the discovery of Reid 1B and its gigantic lithium reserves as “a secluded treasure chest.”
As in some science fiction movies or video games, perhaps the time will come when we will have the tools to go from here to there through space, mining as many resources as necessary to continue expanding the human stain. Only the discovery of the Reid 1B deposits proves that, when it comes to space mining, we had the map much earlier than the ship to go in search of the treasure.