Imagine a night sky studded with brilliant stars all lying within just a few light-years of Earth. That would be your treat if the sun belonged to a star cluster, a conglomeration of stars born together and bound by one another's gravitational pull. But astronomers have found few planets orbiting stars in clusters. Now, however, observers using the Hubble Space Telescope report evidence for asteroids (artist's conception shown) around two stars in the Hyades. It's the nearest star cluster, 150 light-years from Earth in the constellation Taurus. The stars are white dwarfs , dying stars with such intense gravity that they drag elements heavier than hydrogen and helium beneath their surfaces. But as the astronomers report in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, the surfaces of the two white dwarfs have silicon, which likely came from asteroids that recently crashed into them . Since asteroids are the building blocks of rocky planets, they're a sign that those stars have planets bearing silicate rocks as Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars do, and a hint that many other stars in the Hyades sport rocky worlds that offer stunning sights at night.
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