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White dwarf “Death Star” seen destroying a planet

21 October 2015 Astronomy Now

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.

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Ancient quasar with massive black hole found at cosmic dawn

25 February 2015 Astronomy Now

An international team of astronomers has found a huge and ancient black hole which was powering the brightest object in the early universe. The black hole’s mass is 12 billion times that of the Sun, and was at the centre of a quasar that pumped out a million billion times the energy of our star.