Release Images

Release No.: 2015-21
For Release: Wednesday, October 21, 2015 - 1:00pm

Cosmic "Death Star" is Destroying a Planet

Ceres-like asteroid

In this artist's conception, a Ceres-like asteroid is slowly disintegrating as it orbits a white dwarf star. Astronomers have spotted telltales signs of such an object using data from the Kepler K2 mission. It is the first planetary object detected transiting a white dwarf. Within about a million years the object will be destroyed, leaving a thin dusting of metals on the surface of the white dwarf.

Mark A. Garlick /