Study: Universe’s Lack of Phosphorus Means Less Chance of Alien Life

April 6, 2018 1:53 pm Last Updated: April 6, 2018 2:01 pm

The quest to find alien life similar to humans may be less promising than originally thought. A recent study by astronomers at Cardiff University in Wales has found that the universe appears to have insufficient amounts of phosphorus, an element essential to life as we know it.

Phosphorus is the second-most plentiful mineral in the human body after calcium and is used for filtering waste and building strong bones and teeth. It is a highly reactive element and is never found in its free state.

The element is created when supermassive stars explode and the quantity produced can be linked to the type of explosion. Different types of star explosions were studied. Research suggests material blown out into space could vary significantly in chemical composition.

Phosphorus travels across space in meteoric rocks, so what astronomers wonder is if a relatively young planet could lack in phosphorus due to where in space it was born or if it resulted from a type of star explosion that didn’t create much of the element.