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12 December 2013 1:00 pm ,
Vol. 342 ,
The iconic 125-year-old Lick Observatory on Mount Hamilton near San Jose, California, is facing the threat of closure...
Recent results from the Curiosity Mars rover have helped scientists formulate a plan for the next phase of its mission...
A new, remarkably powerful drug that cripples the hepatitis C virus (HCV) came to market last week, but it sells for $...
In pretoothbrush populations, gumlines would often be marred by a thick, visible crust of calcium phosphate, food...
Evolutionary biologists have long studied how the Mexican tetra, a drab fish that lives in rivers and creeks but has...
Victorian astronomers spent countless hours laboriously charting the positions of stars in the sky. Such sky mapping,...
In an ambitious project to study 1000 years of sickness and health, researchers are excavating the graveyard of the now...
Stefan Behnisch has won awards for designing science labs and other buildings that are smart, sustainable, and...
- 12 December 2013 1:00 pm , Vol. 342 , #6164
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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.