This question is linked to my previous question about star metallicity’s link to the chemical element availability in that star’s planetary system: Is there a link between a star's metallicity and the availability of chemical elements in its system?

Quick reminder: I’m doing this inquiry to world-build how interstellar trade would function in my story. The premise is that if one star system has an abundance of one element that is in short supply in others and is of high demand, it would be this star system’s prime export commodity.

You have provided excellent answers about nucleo-synthetic pathways. The only problem is that I don’t understand this process. My approach instead would be much simpler: look at resources available in our own Solar System, look at the difference in metallicity in the target star, and adjust element abundance numbers accordingly (lower metallicity - lower element abundance and vice versa). And it probably is incorrect.

But there is this website publishing assessments of TOP5 chemical elements available on planets and other notable celestial bodies of our Solar System: Top 5 elements in the atmosphere of Venus (usra.edu). As well as this database assessing all known asteroids in Solar System and estimating element availability on each, in addition estimating required Delta-v and returned profit from potential astromining operation: Asteroid Database and Mining Rankings - Asterank.

So I have got the question:

Are there maybe similar assessments about other star systems?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ There are abundance measurements in other stars - but not in their planetary systems. The "chemical availability" in a planet or minor body may depend on much more than the abundances in its parent star. $\endgroup$
    – ProfRob
    Sep 24, 2023 at 14:47
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ While there will be slight differences, there is not going to be anything massively different from the general abundences found throughout the universe. It would be hard to imagine an element that is (1) so rare on Earth and (2) abundant enough on an exoplanet that (3) the cost of interstellar export is justified. Now, biological compounds - that (might) be a different thing. Exobiology might create novel chemicals that can't be synthesised on Earth. $\endgroup$
    – James K
    Sep 24, 2023 at 15:30
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    $\begingroup$ As mentioned in the answers to your previous question, the metal (i.e., everything heavier than helium) abundances in a system should be pretty similar to the abundances in the star. But you can't exploit a mineral that's impractical to extract, eg platinum in the core of some planet. $\endgroup$
    – PM 2Ring
    Sep 24, 2023 at 17:04
  • $\begingroup$ As James said, it may not be economical to trade minerals. Unless you have some "magical" engine technology, it takes a lot of energy to move material over interstellar distances, especially if you don't want to spend centuries (or millennia) doing it. FWIW, with current technology, if there were pure gold just sitting on the surface of the Moon, it wouldn't be cost-effective to bring it back to Earth. $\endgroup$
    – PM 2Ring
    Sep 24, 2023 at 17:09
  • $\begingroup$ @JamesK Can't be synthesised? Not much chance anything would be so though to synthesise to get it from a different star system. $\endgroup$
    – Mithoron
    Sep 24, 2023 at 18:18


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