Scientists at UCLA discovered that earth-like planets might be more common in the universe than we think.
In a NASA funded study at UCLA, a team of astrophysicists and geochemists are using telescope pictures of burned-out stars, called “white dwarfs” to look for rocks that could stem from planets similar to earth in their periphery. The gravitational pull of those “white dwarfs” which are up to 665 light-years away from earth, swallows up asteroids and fragments of rocky planets that cross their path. The scientists observe the elements in the “white dwarf” stars to find out if these rocky structures are similar to the rocks on Earth or Mars.
“The rocks are Earth-like and Mars-like in terms of their oxidized iron. We’re finding that rocks are rocks everywhere, with very similar geophysics and geochemistry” explains Alexandra Doyle, who leads the team of scientists. The oxidation of the rocks can mean that the composition of those planets is similar to Earth and that they could potentially support life.
This discovery proves that there could be many more rocky planets like the Earth in other solar systems and that the likelihood of finding one just rose immensely.