July 20, 2021
by Royal Astronomical Society
Any life identified on planets orbiting white dwarf stars almost certainly evolved after the star's death, says a new study led by the University of Warwick that reveals the consequences of the intense and furious stellar winds that will batter a planet as its star is dying. The research is published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, and lead author Dr. Dimitri Veras will present it today (21 July) at the online National Astronomy Meeting (NAM 2021).
The research provides new insight for astronomers searching for signs of life around these dead stars by examining the impact that their winds will have on orbiting planets during the star's transition to the white dwarf stage. The study concludes that it is nearly impossible for life to survive cataclysmic stellar evolution unless the planet has an intensely strong magnetic field—or magnetosphere—that can shield it from the worst effects.