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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (CBSMiami/AP) — A faraway object in space is actually being destroyed by a real-life ‘Death Star.’
Astronomers announced Wednesday that they have discovered a rocky object coming apart in a death spiral around a white dwarf star. They used NASA’s Kepler spacecraft to make the discovery, then followed up with ground observations.
The data show the object in an orbit 520,000 miles (about 837,000 kilometers) from the white dwarf star. That’s the approximate distance from the Earth to the moon, and back. The researchers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts, also found several additional chunks of orbiting material.
Scientists believe the original object may have been a planet whose orbit became unstable, and was kicked inward. The pieces will eventually be ripped apart and vaporized.
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