Astronomers from University of Warwick in Coventry, England, said on April 4, 2019, that they’ve detected a relatively large fragment from a former planet, orbiting in a disk of debris encircling a dead star. The star is a white dwarf, and it’s located 410 light-years away. The white dwarf should have destroyed its solar system in a system-wide cataclysm that followed its death. But the newly discovered planet fragment is thought to be rich in heavy metals – iron and nickel – which helped it survive destruction. The astronomers said the fragment is orbiting the white dwarf.
They also said the planet fragment has a “comet-like tail” of gas, creating a ring within the debris disk. And they said this system offers us a hint as to the future of our own solar system, 6 billion years from now. The discovery was reported in the peer-reviewed journal Science on April 4.