Astronomers have found evidence for a planet being devoured by its star, yielding insights into the fate that will befall Earth in billions of years.
The team uncovered the signature of a planet that had been "eaten" by looking at the chemistry of the host star.
They also think a surviving planet around this star may have been kicked into its unusual orbit by the destruction of a neighbouring world.
Details of the work have been published in Astrophysical Journal Letters.
The US-Polish-Spanish team made the discovery when they were studying the star BD+48 740 - which is one of a stellar class known as red giants. Their observations were made with the Hobby Eberly telescope, based at the McDonald Observatory in Texas.
Rising temperatures near the cores of red giants cause these elderly stars to expand in size, a process which will cause any nearby planets to be destroyed.
"A similar fate may await the inner planets in our solar system, when the Sun becomes a red giant and expands all the way out to Earth's orbit some five billion years from now," said co-author Prof Alexander Wolszczan from Pennsylvania State University in the US...