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17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
Vol. 344 ,
Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
Using the two high-quality genomes that exist for Neandertals and Denisovans, researchers find clues to gene activity...
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
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ScienceShot: For Life's Evolution, Stellar Chemistry Matters
26 July 2012 5:14 pm
Planetary scientists agree that a planet's distance from its parent star is of paramount importance for creating conditions where liquid water might spur life. But what about the host star's chemical makeup? A paper in press at The Astrophysical Journal Letters argues that a greater abundance of carbon, sodium, magnesium, and silicon should be a plus for an inner solar system's long-term habitability. That's because the abundance of these elements make the star cooler and cause it to evolve more slowly, thereby giving planets in its habitable zone more time to develop life as we know it. The stellar abundance of oxygen, in particular, seems crucial in determining how long newly formed planets stay in the habitable zone around their host star, the researchers report. If our own sun had a lower abundance of oxygen, for example, Earth would have left the habitable zone a billion years ago, well before complex organisms evolved.
See more ScienceShots.