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Toasty planets circle stellar heart

Roasted remains orbit former red giant

3:06pm, December 21, 2011

It’s rude to play with your food, even if you’re a star.

One of the stars in the Kepler space telescope’s crosshairs has apparently regurgitated the Earth-sized remains of two planets ingested when the star temporarily ballooned into a red giant. Now, the rocky survivors are whizzing around the star’s small, pulsing heart, each completing its orbit in less than 10 hours.

At least, that’s the interpretation offered by an international team thatreports the oddball planetary system in the Dec. 22 Nature. While some astronomers are skeptical of the explanation, if the

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