Monday, April 20, 2009

Ashes to ashes

Ancient Solar Systems Found Around Dead Stars

A team of astronomers have found evidence that between 1-3 percent of white dwarf stars are orbited by rocky planets and asteroids, suggesting these objects once hosted solar systems similar to our own. White dwarf stars are the compact, hot remnants left behind when stars like our Sun reach the end of their lives. Using data from the Spitzer Space Telescope, an international team of astronomers have determined that asteroids are found in orbit around a large number of white dwarfs, perhaps as many as 5 million in our own Milky Way Galaxy.

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