The Death Star of the movie Star Wars may be fictional, but planetary destruction is real. Astronomers announced today that they have spotted a large, rocky object disintegrating in its death spiral around a distant white dwarf star. The discovery also confirms a long-standing theory behind the source of white dwarf “pollution” by metals.
Some 300 so-called hot Jupiters have been identified over the past two decades, but how did these large, hot planets ever get so close to their suns? Now scientists have made a startling discovery: One of these mysterious hot Jupiter systems has not one, but two close-in planetary companions, leading to new clues about planet formation and migration.