Dying stars do host planets that have a chance for life. Alien life may be easiest to find around dying stars such as white dwarfs.

The reason why alien life may be easiest to find around white dwarfs is that astronomers could detect oxygen in the atmosphere of a white dwarf’s planet much more easily than on an Earth-like planet orbiting a Sun-like star.

Oxygen is the signature of life.

The reason why we are so interested in finding oxygen is that the oxygen in the Earth’s atmosphere is continuously replenished, through photosynthesis, by plant life.

So, the presence of large quantities of oxygen in the atmosphere of a distant planet would signal the likely presence of life there.

When stars like our sun die, they cast off their outer atmospheres, leaving behind a hot core called a white dwarf.

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A white dwarf slowly cools and fades over time, but it can retain heat long enough to give an orbiting planet billions of years of mild temperatures.

The abundance of heavy elements on the surface of white dwarf stars suggests that a large number of them have rocky planets in their orbit. The best way to find such planets is using the transit method which is based on the observation of a star’s small drop in brightness, that occurs when an orbiting planet crosses in front of it.

A typical white dwarf has 60% of the Sun’s mass and it’s about the size of a planet. So, an Earth-sized planet can block nearly all the light from its parent white dwarf star, meaning even a 1-meter ground-based telescope could detect the presence of a planet.

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, scheduled for a launch on March 30, 2021, will be able to study the gases of these alien worlds. The new telescope could detect both oxygen and water vapor with only a few hours of total observation time.

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