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Alien life may be possible even at the Milky Way’s edges

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The discovery of phosphorus in a cloud at the edge of the Milky Way has extended the region in our galaxy where life might be found.

Phosphorus is one of six essential elements for life on Earth, along with nitrogen, carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and sulfur (SN: 12/16/22). Until now, it had been the only one of those elements missing from the farthest reaches of our galaxy. Finding phosphorus that far out could extend the galaxy’s habitable zone out from its center by roughly 22,000 light-years, researchers reported June 8 at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Albuquerque. That in turn could motivate astronomers to look in the hinterlands of the Milky Way for planets and any life they might harbor.

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