Astronomers have caught four dying stars in the act of chowing down on rocky alien
planets similar to Earth, a destructive cosmic process that may one day play out in our very own solar system. Evidence of the distant celestial meals was found around four white dwarfs, stars that are in the final stages of their lives. According to astrophysicists at the University of Warwick in the U.K. the stars are surrounded by dust and rocky debris from shattered alien planets that appear to have once shared very similar compositions to Earth. The researchers used the Hubble Space Telescope to examine the atmospheres of more than 80 white dwarf stars within a few hundred light-years of the sun. White dwarfs are the compact stellar remains of relatively small stars, like our sun, that have exhausted their fuel, leaving behind dim, fading cores of material.They found that the most common chemical elements in the dust around four of the white dwarfs were oxygen, magnesium, iron and silicon, the four elements that make up roughly 93 percent of the Earth. The dusty veils of material also contained an extremely low proportion of carbon, which is similar to what is found with Earth and the other rocky planets that orbit closest to the sun. According to the researchers, this is the first time that such low proportions of carbon have been measured in the atmospheres of white dwarf stars surrounded by cosmic debris. These observations indicate that the stars once hosted at least one rocky planet that has since been destroyed. The astrophysicists also determined that they are witnessing the final phase in the deaths of these alien worlds.