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Gaseous disk around white dwarf ‘intriguing’ find for exoplanet hunters

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Jeff Tyson

An international team of scientists has reported in the journal Nature that they’ve discovered evidence of a gaseous disk around a white dwarf star — expanding astronomers’ understanding of planetary bodies that can exist around white dwarfs.

Lisa Kaltenegger

Professor of Astronomy, Director of the Carl Sagan Institute

Lisa Kaltenegger, who was not involved in the study, is director of Cornell University’s Carl Sagan Institute, a professor of astrophysics, one of the world’s leading experts on exoplanets and an author of a 2018 paper on habitable worlds around white dwarfs. She says these findings represent an intriguing development.

Kaltenegger says:

“These results are intriguing because they suggest that white dwarfs could host planets.

“Our work on white dwarfs as host stars to potentially habitable planets, led by my PhD student Thea Kozakis, shows that such planets — if they exist — could maintain habitable conditions for billions of years. I hope they will find rocky planets orbiting white dwarfs next.”

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