NASA may have glimpsed a star ‘devouring a planet’ for the first time

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NASA may have glimpsed a star ‘devouring a planet’ for the first time‘CNET

At least, that’s what a team of astronomers believe occurred at RW Aur A, a star just a few million years old that has been studied by astronomers since 1937.

However, as early as 2011, the light has dimmed more frequently and for longer periods. A team of researchers turned the Chandra X-ray Observatory toward the star over a five year period to get a better understanding of what exactly was happening.

Chandra, a space telescope first launched in 1999, is extremely sensitive and can detect the intensity of X-rays emitted by the young star. Typically, young stars like RW Aur A are surrounded by thick disks of debris and gas, which alter the intensity of the X-rays the star emits. By allowing Chandra to observe RW Aur A, data can be obtained that helps scientists work out what type of material is present in the disks.

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X-ray data may be first evidence of a star devouring a planet

For nearly a century, astronomers have puzzled over the curious variability of young stars residing in the Taurus-Auriga constellation some 450 light years from Earth. One star in particular has drawn astronomers’ attention. Every few decades, the star’s light has faded briefly before brightening again.

In recent years, astronomers have observed the star dimming more frequently, and for longer periods, raising the question: What is repeatedly obscuring the star? The answer, astronomers believe, could shed light on some of the chaotic processes that take place early in a star’s development.

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First Evidence Of A Star Devouring A Planet

A cosmic event captured by NASA’s Chandra X-Ray Observatory has led astronomers to believe they have witnessed a young star feeding on a planet. This is the first time a study has shown that stars can devour planets.

A young star that resides in the Taurus-Auriga constellation some 450 light years from Earth has been of great interest to astronomers for nearly a century. The star, named RW Aur A, experiences major dips in brightness every few decades. In recent years, these dimming events have become more frequent and longer. So astronomers wondered what could be causing these unusual dips. Using NASA’s Chandra X-Ray Observatory, they have found evidence for a collision between two infant planetary bodies. The collision produced a dense cloud of gas and dust. When this planetary debris fell into the star, it generated a thick haze and temporarily obscured the star’s light.

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Chandra may have first evidence of a young star devouring a planet

Washington, July 19 (IBNS): Scientists may have observed, for the first time, the destruction of a young planet or planets around a nearby star.

Observations from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory indicate that the parent star is now in the process of devouring the planetary debris. 

Moving on.

Since 1937, astronomers have puzzled over the curious variability of a young star named RW Aur A, located about 450 light years from Earth. Every few decades, the star’s optical light has faded briefly before brightening again. In recent years, astronomers have observed the star dimming more frequently, and for longer periods, read the NASA website.

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