It's not often I get to write a story that involves "cosmic cannibalism" - in fact before today, I had never written a story like that. But times change, and intergalactic discoveries are made.
Okay, so in these days of hyper-science the discovery of yet another planet orbiting yet another star may not be anything out of the ordinary. Unless, of course, the planet and the star come from a galaxy far, far away.
The rather unromantically named HIP 13044 B is the first planet to be discovered in the milky way...that was born outside of our galaxy. The extra-galactic exo-planet (I love all this space speak!) was spotted by scientists at the European Southern Observatory in Chile. It's 20% bigger than Jupiter and orbits a dying star that first got devoured by our galaxy six to nine-billion years ago. Yes, that' s where the "cosmic cannibalism" comes in.
What makes the newly discovered planetary pairing so fascinating to scientists - and to space geeks like me - is that the star is burning up, meaning exo-planet HIP 13044 B may soon become an ex-planet, engulfed by its host star. That gives us all tantalising clues about the future of our own solar system.
Given that the planet is some 2,000 light-years away from Earth, it gives the phrase "distance-learning" a whole new meaning.