Bad News. Planets Orbiting Red Dwarfs Might not have the Raw Materials for Life

Universe Today | 1/10/2019 | Staff
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New research from the Hubble Space Telescope and the ESO’s Very Large Telescope is dampening some of the enthusiasm in the search for life. Observations by both ‘scopes suggest that the raw materials necessary for life may be rare in solar systems centered around red dwarfs.

And if the raw materials aren’t there, it may mean that many of the exoplanets we’ve found in the habitable zones of other stars just aren’t habitable after-all.

Vantage - Point - Stars - Sun - Stars

From our Earthly vantage point, it’s easy to think that most stars are much like our Sun. It’s big and yellow and bright, and the stars we see in the night sky mostly appear the same. But that’s an illusion. In fact, the most common type of star is a red dwarf.

Red dwarfs are smaller and cooler than our Sun, and they make up about 75% of the stars in our Milky Way galaxy. That means that about 75% of the planets in the Milky Way are orbiting red dwarfs.

Search - Life - Problem

And as far as the search for life goes, that may be a big problem.

To understand the problem with red dwarfs and the raw materials for life, let’s look at our Sun and Solar System.

Stars - Clouds - Gas - Dust - Clouds

Stars form from massive clouds of gas and dust called molecular clouds. As gravity goes to work, material gathers in the center of the cloud. Eventually, after enough material gathers, the density and pressure become so great that fusion ignites, and a star is born. The type of star that forms depends on the initial mass of the star.

Most of the time, in our Milky Way galaxy anyway, a red dwarf is born. In rarer occasions, a star like our Sun is born. The leftover material from the cloud encircles the star as a protoplanetary disk, and eventually forms objects like planets, asteroids, and comets....
(Excerpt) Read more at: Universe Today
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