MARK GARLICK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY MARK GARLICK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Artwork of a white dwarf star destroying a planet. White dwarfs are the end-point of stellar evolution for stars like the Sun. As a sun-like star runs out of hydrogen in its core, the core contracts while the star's outer layers are jettisoned. The core is exposed to the cosmos, as a white dwarf. Astronomers have found that some white dwarfs have atmospheres that are very rich in heavy elements. These can only be explained by rocky planets falling into the star and polluting its atmosphere.
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