The retired SQL Server 2000 documentation https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=51958 states:
"The statistics generated for a column can be deleted if you no longer want to retain and maintain them. Statistics created on columns by SQL Server (when the AUTO_CREATE_STATISTICS database option is set to ON) are aged and dropped automatically."
Obviously this is old documentation related to SQL Server 2000, but I can't find anything official that is more current and says otherwise or that the behaviour is different now. Can anyone answer definitively? Thanks..