Astronomers have detected a real-life Death Star, or to be more specific, a distant white dwarf star called “WD 1145+017” that’s in the process of destroying several planets. “We are for the first time witnessing a miniature ‘planet’ ripped apart by intense gravity, being vaporized by starlight and raining rocky material onto its star,” said Andrew Vanderburg, graduate student at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and lead author of the paper published in Nature. Continue reading for a video and more information.
“For the last decade we’ve suspected that white dwarf stars were feeding on the remains of rocky objects, and this result may be the smoking gun we’re looking for. However, there’s still a lot more work to be done figuring out the history of this system,” said Fergal Mullally, staff scientist of K2 [Kepler Space Telescope Mission] at SETI and NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California.