NASA: Death Star May Have Shredded Planet After Close Encounter

The event occurred at the edge of the Milky Way.

NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and several other telescopes captured evidence of the Earth-sized star's destructive act. A white dwarf star has a dense core and is what stars similar to the sun can transform into after being depleted of nuclear fuel.

When stars enter the dwarf stage, their matter is densely packed into a radius that can be just 1 percent of that of the original star.

"When such a planet passes too close to a white dwarf, it can be torn apart by the intense tidal forces of the white dwarf. The planetary debris is then heated and glows in X-rays as it falls onto the white dwarf," researchers wrote.

It's estimated the planet that was slayed by the star contained about one third of Earth's mass, whereas NASA said the powerful white dwarf has about 1.4 times the mass of the sun.