Lack of phosphorous could kill chances of extraterrestrial life

New research from Cardiff University could mean that extraterrestrial life is much less likely to exist than we thought.
By Tyler MacDonald | Apr 05, 2018
A lack of phosphorous, a crucial element of life, might be extremely rare and snuff out chances of extraterrestrial life,according to BGR.

Phosphorous (P) allows cells to manage energy, and without it humans wouldn't exist. Now, new research from Cardiff University researchers suggests that a lack of this element might mean that even the most ideal planet candidates don't have the necessary ingredients for life.

"Astronomers have just started to pay attention to the cosmic origins of phosphorus and found quite a few surprises," Cardiff University researcher Jane Greavessaid in a press release.. "In particular, P is created in supernovae the explosions of massive stars but the amounts seen so far don't match our computer models. I wondered what the implications were for life on other planets if unpredictable amounts of P are spat out into space and later used in the construction of new planets."

Through the examination of Crab Nebula, the remains of a supernova explosion, they determined the levels of phosphorous and iron. The results suggest that phosphorous was present in less concentrations than other supernova remnants. It supports the idea that phosphorous levels stemming from supernovae vary wildly.

Although research is still preliminary, the data could mean that a planet obtaining enough phosphorous to support life might require much more luck than previously believed.


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