The Hubble Space Telescope observed a dead star disrupting an entire planetary system.
According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the dying throes of a star have wreaked such havoc on a planetary system that the dead star left behind, known as a white dwarf, is siphoning debris from the planetary system’s inner and outer reaches.
NASA claimed that this is the first time scientists have seen a white dwarf star consume both rocky-metallic and ice material, which are the building blocks of planets.
“We have never seen both of these kinds of objects accreting onto a white dwarf at the same time,” said lead researcher Ted Johnson.
NASA deemed the event a “cosmic cannibalism” because of the way the white dwarf has brought destruction to an entire planetary system, devouring everything within its gravitational force.
“This study confirms the true scale of this violent chaotic phase, showing that within 100 million years after the beginning of its white dwarf phase, the star is able to simultaneously capture and consume material from its asteroid belt and Kuiper belt-like regions,” said NASA.
According to data from the observation, the overall mass consumed by the white dwarf could be as much as an asteroid or a small moon.
Johnson expressed that “By studying these white dwarfs, we hope to gain a better understanding of planetary systems that are still intact.”
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