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20th June 2022 (8 Topics)

‘Cosmic cannibalism’


Astronomers have observed a phenomenon, called, “cosmic cannibalism," a dead star is ripping apart its planetary system.


  • A white dwarf is ripping up an entire planetary system with its death throes.
  • A star is ending its life so violently that the dead star left behind, called a white dwarf, is disrupting an entire planetary system by sucking in debris from both its inner and outer reaches.
  • This cosmic phenomenon is the first time that astronomershave observed.
  • The white dwarf star is consuming the rock-metallic and icy material, both of which are the “ingredients of planets”.
  • This case of cosmic cannibalism was diagnosed with the help of archival data from the Hubble Space Telescope and other NASA observatories.
  • The researchers obtained the findings based on the analysis of material captured by the atmosphere of the nearby white dwarf star G238-44.

White Dwarf:

  • A white dwarf is formed when a low-mass star like our sun exhausts most of its nuclear fuel.
  • It is usually very dense and about the size of a planet.
  • They are dense, dim, stellar corpses — the last observable stage of evolution for low- and medium-mass stars.  
  • Compared to our sun, a white dwarf has a similar carbon and oxygen mass though it is much smaller in size — similar to Earth.
  • White dwarf temperatures can exceed 100,000 Kelvin according to NASA (that's about 179,500 degrees Fahrenheit).
    • Despite these sweltering temperatures, white dwarfs have a low luminosity as they're so small in size.

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