360° Coverage : Dying stars may clue us into extra-terrestrial life

Dying stars may clue us into extra-terrestrial life

Washington, Feb 26 (IANS) Dying stars could also host planets with life -- if they do, they might be able to clue our scientists into it within the next decade.

Feb 26 2013, 6:03am CST | by

Dying stars may clue us into extra-terrestrial life
Photo Credit: AFP, Getty Images

Washington, Feb 26 — Dying stars could also host planets with life -- if they do, they might be able to clue our scientists into it within the next decade.

"In the quest for extra-terrestrial biological signatures, the first stars we study should be white dwarfs," said Avi Loeb, theorist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics (CfA).

Loeb and his colleague Dan Maoz (Tel Aviv University) estimate that a survey of the 500 closest white dwarfs could spot one or more habitable Earths, the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society reports.

This encouraging result comes from a new theoretical study of Earth-like planets orbiting white dwarf stars. For instance, oxygen could be detected in the atmosphere of a white dwarf's planet, much more easily than for an Earth-like planet orbiting a Sun-like star, according to a Harvard-Smithsonian statement.

When a star like the Sun dies, it puffs off its outer layers, leaving behind a hot core called a white dwarf.

A typical white dwarf is about the size of Earth. It slowly cools and fades over time, but it can retain heat long enough to warm a nearby world for billions of years.

Since a white dwarf is much smaller and fainter than the Sun, a planet would have to be much closer in to be habitable with liquid water on its surface.

A habitable planet would circle the white dwarf once every 10 hours at a distance of about a million miles.

IANS

Source: IANS

 
 
 

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/8" rel="author">Luigi Lugmayr</a>
Luigi is the founding Chief Editor of I4U News and brings over 15 years experience in the technology field to the ever evolving and exciting world of gadgets. He started I4U News back in 2000 and evolved it into vibrant technology magazine.
Luigi can be contacted directly at ml@i4u.com. Luigi posts regularly on LuigiMe.com about his experience running I4U.

 

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