Vaporized & ripped apart: Astronomers reveal how Earth will die

© NASA / Handout
A white dwarf star in the Constellation Virgo has been declared a ‘death star’, destroying an orbiting celestial body - something “no human has seen before,” according to NASA.

Scientists have said that they found a rocky celestial body coming apart in a death spiral around the star.

"This is something no human has seen before. We're watching a solar system get destroyed," Andrew Vanderburg of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the lead author of the research.

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The object turned out to be in an orbit of 830,000km from the star: about the same distance as from Earth to the moon and back.

Researchers, who used the NASA Kepler telescope to observe the ‘death star’ and its surroundings, think the mysterious object could be a planet whose orbit became unstable, with its pieces vaporized and ripped apart by the white dwarf.

And the same fate could await our planet Earth, they say.

"It is extremely exciting that astronomers have recorded the final throes of a planetary system,” Francesca Faedi, an astronomer at the University of Warwick, told Express.

"Although Earth's final days are a long way into the future, this research has allowed us a glimpse of the probably inescapable outcome," she added.

A white dwarf is what stars such as the sun become after they have run out of their nuclear fuel. Essentially, only the hot core of the star remains, and it may eat the planets or other celestial objects in the vicinity.