General, Research, Technology

Can life arise next to a white dwarf?

When the life of a star comes to its logicalcompletion, she, before dying, finally shows a real space show, then decreasing, then increasing in size. Observations of stars similar to the Sun show that after about 5 billion years, our star will turn into a red giant, which will almost come close to Earth, absorbing Mercury and Venus. After the “cosmic cannibalism” ritual, the Sun will completely drop its outer shell into space, surrounding its core - the future white dwarf - with a planetary nebula. But then what will happen? Can any hypothetical life arise on the ruins of the solar system?

Sooner or later, our Sun awaits the fate of the white dwarf

Life is next to the white dwarf

As mentioned above, white dwarfs arethe remains of small stars whose mass was not enough to turn into a neutron star or a black hole. It is known that the closest white dwarf to our solar system is the star Sirius B, which is located at a distance of 8.6 light years from us. Despite the fact that no planet-like objects were found in the vicinity of Sirius B, scientists believe that life near the exposed core of the red giant may well appear due to the much longer lifespan of such a small object, even in comparison with our Sun. Researchers believe that a potentially inhabited planet, illuminated by the light of a white dwarf, should be located at a distance 100 times smaller than the Earth from the Sun. But how can an inhabited world arise at such a short distance, if the turbulent past of the red giant, which until recently a seemingly harmless white dwarf could possess, was supposed to absorb most of its own planets? The fact is that upon the destruction of objects surrounding a particular star, their gas and dust residues can eventually form the so-called “second generation” planets, which are able to migrate to the white dwarf after it appears. It is known that most of the discovered white dwarfs contain a large amount of heavy materials, which may indicate the presence of rocky planets orbiting around their miniature stars.

See also: Hubble telescope helped astronomers detect the "killing" of a mega-comet "white dwarf"

On planets next to white dwarfs life can arise

For the first time, the likely presence of an exoplanet,revolving around a white dwarf star, it was confirmed in 2018, when a unique object was found in the orbit of the dwarf star J122859.93 + 104032.9, which was subsequently recognized as the core of the former planet. A special compound, which includes a large amount of iron and nickel, was able to protect it from complete decay. The “Webb” telescope will soon be able to study the found “planet”, which will be able to assess the possibility of the existence of at least the simplest life on objects revolving around white dwarfs. Despite the fact that worlds of this type will be constantly in danger of receiving a powerful dose of x-ray or ultraviolet radiation, researchers believe that the probability of finding an earth-like planet near dwarf stars can be estimated as 1: 500, which, incidentally, is a very good one result.

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