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'Winking' Star May Be Devouring Destroyed Planets

A team of U.S. astronomers studying the star RZ Piscium has found evidence suggesting its unpredictable dimming episodes may be caused by orbiting clouds of gas and dust - the remains of one or more destroyed planets. "Our observations show there are massive blobs of dust and gas that occasionally block the star's light and are probably spiraling into it," said Kristina Punzi, a doctoral student at the Rochester Institute of Technology. "Although there could be other explanations, we suggest this material may have been produced by the break-up of massive orbiting bodies near the star." Young stars are often enormous X-ray sources. Observations using the European Space Agency's XMM-Newton satellite show that RZ Piscium is as well.