This is KIC 12557548, in the background. In the foreground is the planet it’s destroying.
The planet in question, which isn’t named because really what’s the point, is currently orbiting KIC 12557548 every 15 hours or so, and the surface temperature is a balmly 3600 degrees Fahrenheit. The “tail” you’re seeing in this image comes from the fact that the surface of the planet is literally boiling away due to the intense heat. Somewhere, a supervillain is giggling.
This was found courtesy of the Kepler space telescope, which is a planet-finding machine. Well, OK, that’s literally true, but we meant in the sense that damn, it finds a lot of worlds. Lots of weird ones, too. But this is the first one Kepler’s found that’s this close to being destroyed.
This is a rare glimpse into what happens when a planet becomes, well, not a planet. And, hey, it also looks awesome.
image courtesy NASA