Science

White Dwarf Tears Apart Comet

By Rodney Rafols , Feb 10, 2017 02:37 AM EST
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Comets have been part of the solar system. Outside of it, astronomers have not seen much of comets in other systems. There might be proof of that now as astronomers have seen as a white dwarf tears apart a comet.

Astronomers have noted a comet being torn apart by a white dwarf with the use of the Hubble Space Telescope. The comet was then scattered around the white dwarf after it has been torn apart by it. Its composition is said to be the same as that of Hailey's comet, though the comet that has been seen is 100,000 times much larger than it.

Comets are very much part of the solar system. Many of the comets come from the Kuiper Belt, a region that is beyond Pluto. The observation of a comet in another system indicates that there is a region possibly like that of the Kuiper Belt around the white dwarf.

Aside from a possible region that has comets, astronomers have speculated that the white dwarf has planets. The planets are the ones that have survived when the star has become a red giant. Now the planets around the white dwarf act as a magnet, drawing in comets into the white dwarf's vicinity.

Leading the study is Siyi Xu from the European Southern Observatory in Garching, Germany. The comet has been found to have much nitrogen. Nitrogen has been an important ingredient for the formation of life on Earth, according to NASA.

With the new discovery, astronomers speculate that other systems might have comets and even a region that has comets around them. Comets are one of the remains of the early solar system, which could be the case as well for comets in other systems. It is the first time that a white dwarf has been observed with an object that is not made out of rock, as Science Daily reports.

The comet that has been found is also the first one that has the same composition as that of Hailey's comet. The white dwarf is about 170 light years from Earth and has a companion star about 2,000 the distance of the Earth from the Sun. The discovery has much importance, as it is the first time a white dwarf tears apart a comet. A study has also found that planets around red dwarfs could lose oxygen.

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