Amid efforts to find alien life, scientists have not yet confirmed the existence of an extraterrestrial civilization. Findings of a new study suggest this has something do with the element phosphorus lacking in the cosmos.

Phosphorus is the 11th most common element on Earth, and it is fundamental to all living things. Phosphorus is one of only six chemical elements on our planet that organisms depend on.

"[Phosphorus] helps form the backbone of the long chains of nucleotides that create RNA and DNA; it is part of the phospholipids in cell membranes; and is a building block of the coenzyme used as an energy carrier in cells, adenosine triphosphate (ATP)," NASA said.

Astronomers have been hunting for phosphorus in the universe because of the role it plays in life on Earth. If the element is lacking in other parts of the cosmos, it could be difficult for alien life to exist.

A new study presented at the European Week of Astronomy and Space Science meeting now suggests that life as we know it is more unusual than previously thought because the universe substantially lacks phosphorus.

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