Dead Star Caught Ripping Up Planetary System

  • Released Wednesday, June 15, 2022

A star’s death throes have so violently disrupted its planetary system that the dead star left behind, called a white dwarf, is siphoning off debris from both the system’s inner and outer reaches. This is the first time astronomers have observed a white dwarf star that is consuming both rocky-metallic and icy material, the ingredients of planets.

Archival data from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and other NASA observatories were essential in diagnosing this case of cosmic cannibalism. The findings help describe the violent nature of evolved planetary systems and can tell astronomers about the makeup of newly forming systems.

For more information, visit

Music & Sound
“Through a Computer Screen” by Raphael Olivier [SACEM] via KTSA Publishing [SACEM] and Universal Production Music

ESA Credit:
Ring of rocky debris around a white dwarf star (artist’s impression)
Credit: NASA, ESA, STScI, and G. Bacon (STScI)

Evaporating extrasolar planet, from Video (artist's impression)
Credit: ESA, Alfred Vidal-Madjar (Institut d'Astrophysique de Paris, CNRS, France) and NASA.

Red Giant Sun
Credit: ESA/Hubble (M. Kornmesser & L. L. Christensen)

Flight through our Solar System
Credit: ESA/Hubble (M. Kornmesser & L. L. Christensen)

ESO Credit:
Comets in Solar System
Credit on screen with : ESO/L. Calçada/N. Risinger (

Vertical Version

This vertical version of the episode is for IGTV or Snapchat. The IGTV episode can be pulled into Instagram Stories and the regular Instagram feed.


Please give credit for this item to:
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. However, please credit individual items as indicated above.

Release date

This page was originally published on Wednesday, June 15, 2022.
This page was last updated on Wednesday, May 3, 2023 at 11:44 AM EDT.


This visualization is related to the following missions: