Life could exist on a planet orbiting a “white dwarf” star, scientists said this week.

What’s going on: Researchers said they may have found a planet that could sustain life since it exists within its star’s “habitable zone,” a term that refers to the space that often indicates conditions will be right for life.

  • The planet, though, is close to a “white dwarf star,” which is a dying sun, according to BBC News.
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Why this matters: “If confirmed, this would be the first time that a potentially life-supporting planet has been found orbiting such a star,” BBC News reports.

What they’re saying: “This is the first time that anything has been seen in the habitable zone of a white dwarf. And thus there is a possibility of life on another world orbiting it,” Jay Farihi, a professor at University College London, told BBC News.

Details: Scientists at the University College London spotted something that continues to pass in front of star WD 1054-226.

  • The star is about 118 light-years away.
  • The scientists said that the items passing the star might be cosmic debris or a comet-sized moon.
  • On top of that, the cosmic debris is orbiting because there’s a “gravitational pull of a planet orbiting slightly further away from the star,” according to New Scientist.
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The bottom line: “The possibility of a planet in the habitable zone is exciting and also unexpected; we were not looking for this,” said Farihi, according to Phys.org.

  • “However, it is important to keep in mind that more evidence is necessary to confirm the presence of a planet. We cannot observe the planet directly so confirmation may come by comparing computer models with further observations of the star and orbiting debris.”
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