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March 31, 2011

White Dwarf Stars may be the Key to Life

According to the article, research done at The Astrophysical Journal Letters by University of Washington Professor Eric Agol says that planets near white dwarf stars are likely to be more habitable in terms of life than on any other places in the universe. The key link is that planets close to white dwarf stars have the right temperature for liquid water to exist on the surface.

This could be a critical finding for astronomers such as Agol. Perhaps his work will set a precedent for other astronomers as to where in the solar system to explore life. There are constant studies being done on Mars and also on gas giant planets, where we have basically come to agree that life could not exist currently. This could aid astronomers in their search for habitability.

Agol suggests astronomers seek the 20,000 closest white dwarfs to Earth. While expensive, perhaps it may prove worthwhile if it can lead to habitability elsewhere. Who knows what kind of life may exist on other planets? This surely intrigues people, particularly astronomers and perhaps Agol's research could be the key to finding an answer to this pressing question.

Here is the link:

Posted by nikraman at March 31, 2011 11:27 PM


white dwarf stars generate less light, therefore it might let temperatures in extraterrestial planets cool. Therefore it might be possible for liquid H20 to exist meaning that life might be possible if other conditions also fit.

Posted by: elidian at March 31, 2011 11:56 PM

This is very interesting!

Posted by: yuxuansh at April 1, 2011 03:30 PM

I saw another article on the same thing. It said that these extrasolar planets come about either by forming from the debris left behind from the red giant's atmosphere, or by migrating closer to the white dwarf (closer than Mercury is to the sun). Although I'm not too sure how a planet could move close enough seemingly on its own, and then foster conditions suitable for life, especially advanced life, before the white dwarf burns out. Also, the planets are tidally locked, so the same side always faces the Sun. This means that probably the only part of the planet that can possibly contain life is at the edge of the lighted side, so don't expect to see life like it is here on Earth!

Here's a link to the article I read:


Posted by: brdoss at April 3, 2011 10:57 AM

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