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NASA Finds “Death Star” Blasting Planet With X-Rays

A planet about 880 light-years from Earth may be about to meet Alderaan‘s fate: It’s being blasted apart by a “death star.”

For now the planet—dubbed CoRoT-2b [or not to be]—has a mass about three times that of Jupiter. That’s 3 x (1.8981 x 10 to the 27) kilograms, for those of you keeping score.

The planet and its sunlike host star were discovered in 2008 using the European Convection, Rotation and planetary Transits (CoRoT) satellite.

Now, according to new data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope, astronomers can tell that the planet is being hit with x-rays about a hundred thousand times more intense that what Earth receives from the sun.

“This planet is being absolutely fried by its star,” study co-author Sebastian Schröter, of the University of Hamburg in Germany, said in a press statement.

All that high-energy radiation is evaporating about five million tons of matter from the planet *each second.*

X-ray: NASA/CXC/Univ of Hamburg/S.Schröter et al; Optical: NASA/NSF/IPAC-Caltech/UMass/2MASS, UNC/CTIO/PROMPT

Of course, the parent star CoRoT-2a (the purple dot at center above) may tell you that the planet was asking for it.

The star is already all growed up, with an estimated age between 100 million and 300 million years old.

But CoRoT-2a is also very active for its age—the star is producing all those x-rays thanks to a strong and turbulent magnetic field, which is a feature of much younger stellar bodies.

Writing in the August issue of the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics, the study authors surmise that the star’s activity may be an effect of the planet orbiting relatively close, at a distance about ten times the span between Earth and the moon.

“Because this planet is so close to the star, it may be speeding up the star’s rotation, and that could be keeping its magnetic fields active,” study co-author Stefan Czesla, also from the University of Hamburg, said in the statement.

“If it wasn’t for the planet, this star might have left behind the volatility of its youth millions of years ago.”

In other words, planets, it may not be in your best interest to be clingy.

Comments

  1. walt eubanks
    union,southcariolina
    February 4, 11:36 pm

    so let me get this straight will ever destroy earth soon please giveme a comment and tell me your name and age

  2. johnmanuel
    riverside,california,U.S.A..
    October 13, 2013, 6:27 pm

    to be continued!

  3. Nile
    London, England.
    February 1, 2013, 2:24 pm

    5 million tons is small change to a Jupiter-sized object.

    That’s 5 x 10^9, and there’s 3 x 10^7 seconds in a year. Do a bit of rough arithmetic, and the planet’s got another ten billion years to go.

    Admittedly, I don’t think I’ll be going there to get that extra-special suntan; not even with the world’s coolest Ray-Ban sunglasses and factor-50 sun block.

    Meanwhile, stop trying to impress the uneducated with big numbers: planets are big, we *know* that already, and most of us have no trouble working with powers of ten. Maybe I could try impressing you by telling you the size of my amazing brain, in nanograms, and how far I walk to work, in millimetres and in molecules of air displaced: big numbers, of little value.

    A number that would impress me – and offer some value to those who lack a scientific education – is a comparative figure for the effect of solar radiation and the solar wind on Earth’s atmosphere.

    Do we lose a ton an hour, or a ton a year? What’s a million tons, as a fraction of the Earth’s inventory of atmospheric gas and crustal volatiles? And, given that a Jupiter-sized planet presents a larger face to its sun, it would be usefult to say what an Earth-sized would experience in that solar system, at that distance from their sun.

    Comparison and context: it’s the difference between education and explanation, on the one hand, and boastful obscurantism on the other.

  4. ugg アグ
    United Kingdom
    December 11, 2012, 3:11 pm

    I am very interested for this post.This site is so helpful. So i want some information for sharing this side with some of my friend. Thanks!

  5. Crystal
    Phinix AZ
    December 16, 2011, 11:13 pm

    Yikes!!! The univers can be HARSH!!!

  6. bob
    houston
    November 28, 2011, 12:52 pm

    hey lookin up the earth is fun n enjoyable okay its in excited………

  7. [...] I don't mean to sound like some crazy conspiracy kook but… Maybe not so far fetched…. NASA Finds “Death Star” Blasting Planet With X-Rays – News Watch The Fable of the Ducks & the Hens by George Rockwell "Nor is it less certain that [...]

  8. KK
    Reno
    October 26, 2011, 9:31 am

    For brainfeeze’s question. The colored flickering of a star you are seeing happens because of the high altitude moisture or ice particles in the upper atmosphere. These particles act like a prism and difuse the light into the different bandwidths of color. You get the same effect when you spray a water hose into the air on a sunny day to create a rainbow.

  9. jd
    canberra
    October 19, 2011, 6:40 pm

    i cant believe it its shocking
    some people think its funny
    i think its really weird
    haaahhhaaah

  10. brainfreeze
    sarasota
    October 12, 2011, 1:31 am

    Every couple of days I’ll look out to the stars and see a star flickering red, blue, yellow or orange and green. I can’t find info on what causes this effect, so i was hoping u can tell me.

  11. NORMA
    ARIZONA
    September 24, 2011, 12:49 pm

    Enjoyed the lively presentation written by knowledgeable pro w/ a great sense of language!

    Fascinating, plus!

  12. shubham
    panipat
    September 24, 2011, 5:22 am

    woww!!

    hey mr. universe don’t eat my sweety earth
    please

    .
    ..

    .

    .
    .
    .
    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11

    /???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

    hey my id find request

    bye

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    September 16, 2011, 1:59 pm

    [...] NASA Finds “Death Star” Blasting Planet With X-Rays from National Geographic. [...]

  15. [...] is a heady time for sci-fi fans. Earlier this week NASA announced that a death star is bombarding a planet about 880 light years from Earth with x-rays. We [...]

  16. hu
    az
    September 15, 2011, 6:44 pm

    cool article very cool indeed

  17. [...] NASA has discovered a planet 880 light years from earth that is being blasted by a “death” star, reports National Geographic. [...]

  18. [...] NASA has discovered a planet 880 light years from earth that is being blasted by a "death" star, reports National Geographic. [...]

  19. Crash
    September 15, 2011, 5:10 pm

    In other news, the housing market has taken a significant hit on CoRoT-2b, with a forecast of 0% growth over the next 100 millennia.

  20. 'Death Star' Fries Planet With X-Rays
    September 15, 2011, 5:05 pm

    [...] NASA has discovered a planet 880 light years from earth that is being blasted by a “death” star, reports National Geographic. [...]

  21. [...] NASA has discovered a planet 880 light years from earth that is being blasted by a "death" star, reports National Geographic. [...]

  22. [...] NASA has discovered a planet 880 light years from earth that is being blasted by a "death" star, reports National Geographic. [...]

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  24. [...] NASA has discovered a planet 880 light years from earth that is being blasted by a “death” star, reports National Geographic. [...]

  25. Prasad
    Redmond, WA
    September 14, 2011, 9:01 pm

    Isn’t this an old news – I mean nearly 880 years old? I am not understanding the point of this article. :)

  26. monkey
    September 14, 2011, 7:05 pm

    i am awesome

  27. James Tiberius
    September 14, 2011, 1:14 pm

    @dorkenergy

    McCoy was the doctor, Mr. Scott “Scotty” was the engineer. Understandable mistake though.

  28. alf
    melmac
    September 14, 2011, 12:55 pm

    “If it wasn’t for the planet, this star might have left behind the volatility of its youth millions of years ago.”

    …It left its volatility yesterday, you will find that after 880 years.

  29. Planet-Destroying Star of the Day - TDW Geeks
    September 14, 2011, 12:50 pm

    [...] Planet-Destroying Star of the Day: CoRoT-2b, a large planet about 880 light-years from Earth, is being destroyed by its own sun. [...]

  30. Christian
    massachusetts
    September 14, 2011, 9:41 am

    This is very interesting and im only 12

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  33. builder7
    September 14, 2011, 3:31 am

    If only planets could talk!

  34. JC
    United States
    September 14, 2011, 12:03 am

    To the commenters, yes, some things would be long over by the time we got there. However, in this particular case, 800 light years at FTL speed? Depends on the speed of the craft and the event, but in this case, I’m thinking we could still be there while it’s still getting zapped. :)

  35. Poison Oak Magnet
    Cruz City, CA
    September 13, 2011, 11:04 pm

    Death Star? This planet gets free X-Rays all the time! That’s better healthcare the most Americans get.

  36. Fr3d
    September 13, 2011, 10:41 pm

    After reading some thirty years or so of scientific reports in various subjects where the researchers in question thoroughly believed theirs was the only true opinion, this new era of unabashed, delighted discovery is refreshing. To discover the scientific community is not only exchanging information and helping each other in research but has developed a sense of humour, the delight is ten-fold. In regards to the reporting of all this, Ms Jaggard, keep up the good work.

  37. randrand
    MIAMI-ON EARTH
    September 13, 2011, 10:15 pm

    “WHEN YOU CIRCLE NEAR A STAR-KEEP YOUR ORBIT FAIRLY FAR; IF YOU’RE PROTECTED, RAYS DEFLECTED-IT COULD HAPPEN ,GOOD THINGS, IT’S TRUE!”

  38. Princess Beezlebot
    Tattooine
    September 13, 2011, 9:53 pm

    I only made it through the first few lines, then I commented
    Out loud to anyone in the room who would listen. “Who wrote
    This crap?”. Ugh, just say no, no, no.

  39. [...] more here: NASA Finds “Death Star” Blasting Planet With X-Rays – National Geographic [...]

  40. Zshane'
    ga
    September 13, 2011, 8:52 pm

    lol nobody not even a star wants a clingy plant lol i dont even want a clingy boyfriend :D LOL

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  42. UghHmm
    September 13, 2011, 7:59 pm

    Awesome article though.

  43. UghHmm
    September 13, 2011, 7:55 pm

    I didn’t expect NatGeo to miss this sentence, “The star is already all growed up, with an estimated age between 100 million and 300 million years old.” It sounds challenged.

  44. [...] X-rays detected by the Chandra X-Ray Observatory (in purple) of CoRoT-2a along with optical …NASA Finds “Death Star” Blasting Planet With X-RaysNational GeographicStar Blasts Alien Planet With X-Ray AttackSpace.comEnraged star is destroying [...]

  45. Mr Nawak
    Millenium Falcon
    September 13, 2011, 6:54 pm

    That’s no moon, it’s a space station !

  46. Mathy
    September 13, 2011, 6:46 pm

    The article isn’t clear about whether that’s 5,000,000 metric tons (1000 kg) or 5,000,000 short (US) tons (2000 lbs, about 907 kg). If it’s short tons then add about 3.6 billion years onto Eric’s calculation.

  47. Joseph Paine
    New Orleans
    September 13, 2011, 6:32 pm

    “The star is already all growed up…” All growed up, really? Hire an editor!

  48. [...] the original here:  NASA Finds “Death Star” Blasting Planet With X-Rays – National Geographic Posted in Technology Tags: moved-temporarily, sci/tech, technology news, temporarily « [...]

  49. jason
    September 13, 2011, 6:23 pm

    I’ve always wondered how many of these phenomenons that we see in the sky actually occured some time ago. I never heard of any scientist saying oh this happened 1000 years ago. Well just a thought.

  50. Rath
    Midgard
    September 13, 2011, 6:15 pm

    @JC we’d need some sort of Tardis then we could see where and when it happened and to back in time to see it.

  51. Rath
    Midgard
    September 13, 2011, 6:14 pm

    Many Bothans died to bring us this information? How many is many?

  52. Monkey See
    September 13, 2011, 6:07 pm

    This star is probably gonna come near eart on december 20 2012 and kill us. So Thats what the mayans predicted

  53. Eric
    September 13, 2011, 6:06 pm

    If my math is correct the time it will take that planet to be completely destroyed is upwards of 36 Billion years! So that is a pretty inefficient planet killing sun x-ray beam weapon… thing.

    Math Time:

    (3 * 1.8981 * 10^27) / (5,000,000 * 1000) = 1,138,860,000,000,000,000 seconds

    1,138,860,000,000,000,000 / 60 / 60 / 24 / 365.24 = 36,089,283,758.62 years

    The (5,000,000 * 1,000) is converting tons to kilograms per second.

  54. [...] National Geographic [...]

  55. Gerald
    September 13, 2011, 6:03 pm

    Man, I bet that STINGS!!

  56. dorkenergy
    trekking
    September 13, 2011, 5:56 pm

    … or

    McCoy: “Aye, Aye, Captain, I don’t think the Clingons will be troublin’ us any more.”

  57. dorkenergy
    September 13, 2011, 5:50 pm

    Cling-Free Planet Softener?

  58. JTK
    September 13, 2011, 5:46 pm

    What’s with the cutesy juvenile way this article is written? It’s an interesting science report and doesn’t need jazzing up (if that’s what the “or not 2b” and “all growed up” and “advice” to planets to not “to be clingy” are supposed to be).

  59. Future JC
    September 13, 2011, 5:45 pm

    Even with our FTL vehicles, once we “see” one these events and fly out there, it had already occured so long ago that there’s nothing to see once we get there.

  60. JI
    September 13, 2011, 5:40 pm

    Really great point, JC.

  61. Jeffy Hamster
    down rabbit hole
    September 13, 2011, 5:39 pm

    Please Mr. Star, don’t eat your friendly planet-neighbor. What sort of precedent would that set?

  62. BP
    September 13, 2011, 5:36 pm

    Unless there is no future for mankind, in which case enjoy it while it lasts!

    Keep your powder dry

  63. JC
    September 13, 2011, 5:22 pm

    Historically speaking, it’s a great time to be alive. However, I sometimes wish that I were living in the unspecified future where interstellar FTL ships were readily available so we could actually go see these things live in person.