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Posts Tagged ‘Matthew Bailes

The diamond as big as a planet

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Astronomers have spotted an exotic planet that seems to be made of diamond racing around a tiny star in our galactic backyard.

The new planet is far denser than any other known so far and consists largely of carbon. Because it is so dense, scientists calculate the carbon must be crystalline, so a large part of this strange world will effectively be diamond.

“The evolutionary history and amazing density of the planet all suggest it is comprised of carbon — i.e. a massive diamond orbiting a neutron star every two hours in an orbit so tight it would fit inside our own Sun,” said Matthew Bailes of Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne.

The planet is probably the remnant of a once-massive star that has lost its outer layers to the so-called pulsar star it orbits…

In the case of pulsar J1719-1438, the beams regularly sweep the Earth and have been monitored by telescopes in Australia, Britain and Hawaii, allowing astronomers to detect modulations due to the gravitational pull of its unseen companion planet…

In addition to carbon, the new planet is also likely to contain oxygen, which may be more prevalent at the surface and is probably increasingly rare toward the carbon-rich center…

Just what this weird diamond world is actually like close up, however, is a mystery.

I’d like to think of it as something at least as bright as the rocks Elizabeth Taylor used to haul around.

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Written by Ed Campbell

August 28, 2011 at 6:00 am

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