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A white dwarf star contains the building blocks for life

Space Exploration
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A rendering of a white dwarf star, showing a rocky debris encircling it much like Saturn
Warwick University
A rendering of a white dwarf star, showing a rocky debris encircling it much like Saturn
I n a intriguing development, research conducted by a team of scientists led by the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) has discovered a white dwarf star containing the building blocks for life, adding further evidence to the theory that there are other planets capable of supporting life forms.

The focus of the study, a star named WD 1425+540, is situated in the constellation Boötes, approximately 200 light years from Earth. Its atmosphere is rich in carbon, oxygen, hydrogen and most crucially nitrogen - the first known instance of a white dwarf star containing this element.

Published in Astrophysical Journal Letters, the study explained that a planet forming near the star would probably be dry. But, like Earth, collisions with other objects could later introduce these life-supporting elements.

White dwarfs are thought to be the final evolutionary state of stars with insufficient mass to become a neutron star, the collapsed core of a large star. They are initially extremely hot, but as they have no source of energy they cool over time and become a cold black dwarf. The time it takes to do so exceeds the time the universe has been in existence (approximately 13.8 billion years), so it is believed there are no black dwarfs in existence.

Benjamin Zuckerman, an astronomer at UCLA and co-author of the research, said "the findings indicate that some of life's important preconditions are common in the universe". But he cautioned that the presence of these elements alone is not sufficient for cultivating life. That requires an "Earth-like world in its size, mass and at the proper distance from a star like our sun”.
Alastair McCready
The World Weekly
16 February 2017 - last edited 16 February 2017