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.

 

blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

Next iPhone could be 4 inch
Next iPhone could be 4 inch
Would be called iPhone 6C
 
 
Apple CEO to give away all his money
Apple CEO to give away all his money
Tim Cook said to be worth $785 million
 
 
Apple Reportedly Releasing iPhone 6S, iPhone 6S Plus and iPhone 6C Later This Ye
Apple Reportedly Releasing iPhone 6S, iPhone 6S Plus and iPhone 6C Later This Year
Apple is said to introduce three different iPhone versions in the second half of 2015
 
 
Apple Reportedly Working with Foxconn to Launch iPhone Trade-in Program in China
Apple Reportedly Working with Foxconn to Launch iPhone Trade-in Program in China
The move will solidify Apple’s business in China.