Recently, a team of scientists elaborated an interesting theory that the lack of phosphorus in the Universe reduces significantly the chances of finding extraterrestrial life.
“Phosphorus is one of the only six chemical elements that are really important for the existence of life on Earth,” said Jane Greaves, an astronomer at Cardiff University in the United Kingdom, who presented the preliminary results of her team study these days, during the European Week of Astronomy and Space Science, held in Liverpool, England.
This selected list of important chemicals includes carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, sulfur and the aforementioned phosphorus, which is a crucial component for the processes of storage and transfer of energy at the cellular levels.
“As an astronomer, I realized that there were no studies of cosmic phosphorus, so I thought <We must trace it from where it starts in astronomical terms>,” Greaves said.
There is not enough phosphorus in the Universe, so, extraterrestrial life couldn’t exist
Phosphorus is one of the chemical elements that are created in during the explosions of stars, which throw it in the Univers.
Using the William Herschel British telescope located in the Canary Islands, Spain, the researchers looked for traces of phosphorus and iron in the Crab Nebula, located at 6,500 light years in the Taurus constellation.
To their surprise, the researchers did not find a sufficient amount of phosphorus that could help to the development of life forms as we know them on Earth. While scientists plan to continue their studies in other supernova remnants, “the path to bring phosphorus to newborn planets seems pretty precarious,” Greaves told.
Jane Greaves also added that “under chemical conditions poor in phosphorus, it may be really difficult for life to originate in another world similar to ours.”
In conclusion, scientists say that extraterrestrial life, as we think of it, couldn’t exist due to the lack of phosphorus observed in the Universe.