Monday, 20 April 2009

Fried or frozen, the solar systems that may have had life

A glimpse of the bleak fate that awaits the Earth in billions of years has emerged from research into dying stars that once blazed as brightly as the Sun.

Astronomers have discovered that at least one in 100 white dwarfs — the burnt-out remnants of Sun-like stars — once had solar systems, with planets that were destroyed or deep-frozen by the death throes of their stars

The research, by a team led by Jay Farihi, of the University of Leicester, suggests millions of other solar systems have endured the destiny predicted for the Earth when the Sun dies.

“What we have seen is a possible fate for our own solar system,” Dr Farihi said. “Many of the systems we are studying will have been similar to our own. It’s a possibility that some of them could once have held life.” Read more
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