Limestone world gobbled by planet-eating white dwarf | Science News

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Limestone world gobbled by planet-eating white dwarf

Shower of carbon crumbs points to existence of puzzling exoplanet

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4:30pm, June 14, 2016
White Cliffs of Dover

An exoplanet torn apart by its dead sun might have been slathered in calcium carbonate, a mineral also found in the White Cliffs of Dover (pictured).

SAN DIEGO — A remote planet — the first with hints of a limestone shell — has been shredded by its dead sun, a new study suggests.

A generous heaping of carbon is raining down on a white dwarf, the exposed core of a dead star, astrophysicist Carl Melis of the University of California, San Diego said June 13 at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society. The carbon — along with a dash of other elements such as calcium, silicon and iron — is probably all that remains of a rocky planet, torn apart by its dying sun’s gravity. Many other white dwarfs show similar signs of planetary cannibalism (SN Online: 10/21/15), but none are as flooded with carbon atoms as this one.  

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