Many scientists believe the Earth was dry when it first formed, and that the building blocks for life on our planet – carbon, nitrogen and water – appeared only later as a result of collisions with other objects in our solar system that had those elements.
On Thursday, a UCLA-led team of scientists reports that it has discovered the existence of a white dwarf star whose atmosphere is rich in carbon and nitrogen, as well as in oxygen and hydrogen, the components of water. The white dwarf is approximately 200 light years from Earth and is located in the constellation Bootes.
Benjamin Zuckerman, a co-author of the research and a UCLA professor of astronomy, said the study presents evidence that the planetary system associated with the white dwarf contains materials that are the basic building blocks for life. And although the study focused on this particular star – known as WD 1425+540 – the fact that its planetary system shares characteristics with our solar system strongly suggests that other planetary systems would also.