White Dwarfs May be Keys to Detecting Life
A white dwarf is essentially a “dead star”, lacking the required power source to keep it from cooling and fading out. New evidence from the University of Tel Aviv shows these stellar corpses may be the best places to look for Earth-like planets. Using advanced technology Professor Dan Maoz and Professor Avi Loeb proved it will be possible to detect the biomarkers indicative of life on Earth-like planets orbiting white dwarfs.
The James Webb Space Telescope (available for launch in 2018) will be the main tool in their arsenal. JWST is designed to pick up oxygen and water in the atmospheres of Earth-like planets and is able to make these observations in only a few hours’ time. This observation time only applies to planets orbiting white dwarfs; planets orbiting “normal stars” are much more difficult to detect.