Polluted Old Stars Suggest Earth-like Worlds May Be Common
By Andrea Thompson
SPACE.com Senior Writer
posted: 12 April 2010
07:02 pm ET
Earth-like planets should be a fairly common feature of other solar systems in our galaxy, a new study of stellar senior citizens suggests.
More than 90 percent of stars in the Milky Way, including our own sun, end their lives as a white dwarfs. Traditionally, these dense stellar remains haven't been the first place that astronomers look for signs of planets outside our own solar system. Instead, exoplanet searches have focused on stars like our own sun.
But tantalizing new results suggest that these elderly stars might also be a rich source of information on the potential for other planetary systems out there in the galaxy.
White dwarfs should essentially be composed of pure hydrogen and helium atmospheres. Any elements heavier than heli
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