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Unformatted text preview: Any life forms will need to use some of the elements heavier than helium (e.g., carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus, sulfur, chromium, iron, and nickel) for biochemical reactions. This means that the gas cloud which forms the star and its planets will have to be enriched with these heavy elements from previous generations of stars. If the star has a metal-rich spectrum, then any planets forming around it will be enriched as well. This narrows the stars to the ones of Population I---in the disk of the Galaxy. Most searches are focusing on the stars more like the Sun that are not too hot nor too cool---those with masses between 0.5 and 1.4 solar masses. Some searches are including the M stars but they will need to look at a large number of M stars to improve their chances of finding the ones with habitable planets....
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- Fall '10