Artist's impression of an asteroid being torn apart
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White dwarf star eats water-rich asteroid

11 October 2013 Last updated at 12:17 BST

Astronomers have detected the tell-tale signs of a shattered asteroid being eaten by a dead star, or white dwarf.

The Hubble telescope spotted the event some 150 light-years from Earth.

The researchers tell Science Magazine that the chemical signatures in the star's atmosphere indicate the asteroid must contain a lot of water.

Dr Jay Farihi, from the Cambridge Institute of Astronomy, explained the new findings to Jon Stewart on the BBC's Science In Action programme.