‘Diamond-rich super-Earth’ planet discovered


TWINKLE, TWINKLE. Artist’s rendition released by Yale University shows planet’s interior twice the size of Earth. In an Oct. 11 statement, Yale scientists say that a rocky planet orbiting a sun-like star is a diamond planet. AFP

WASHINGTON—Twinkling stars are not the only diamonds in the sky.

Scientists reported on Thursday the existence of a “diamond planet” twice the size of Earth and eight times its mass, zooming around a nearby star.

In fact, this is not the first diamond planet ever discovered, but it is the first found orbiting a sun-like star and whose chemical makeup has been specified.

The discovery means that distant rocky planets can no longer be assumed to have chemical constituents, interiors, atmospheres or biologies similar to those of Earth, said lead researcher Nikku Madhusudhan, a Yale postdoctoral researcher in physics and astronomy.

The planet was first observed last year—but researchers initially assumed it was similar in its chemical makeup to Earth.

Vastly different from earth

It was only after a more detailed analysis that the French-American research team determined that the planet, dubbed 55 Cancri e, is vastly different from our own.

The planet “appears to be composed primarily of carbon (as graphite and diamond), iron, silicon carbide, and, possibly, some silicates,” the authors wrote in a statement ahead of their findings’ publication in the US journal Astrophysical Journal Letters.

“The surface of this planet is likely covered in graphite and diamond rather than water and granite,” noted Madhusudhan, who conducted the study with Kanani Lee and Olivier Mousis at the Institut de Recherche en Astrophysique et Planetologie in Toulose, France.

One-third diamond

In fact, the planet appears to have no water at all. As much as a third of the planet’s substantial mass could be made of diamond, a super-dense compound of carbon.

“This is our first glimpse of a rocky world with a fundamentally different chemistry from Earth,” Madhusudhan said.

In comparison, Earth’s interior is rich in oxygen and very poor in carbon, explained study coauthor Lee of Yale.

The researchers estimated the planet’s radius with data collected while it was transiting in front of its star.

That information, combined with an estimate of its mass, was used to model the planet’s chemical composition, based on a calculation of just what elements and compounds could result in that specific size and mass.

18 hours: One year

The planet’s orbit around its star is lightning fast—a year lasts just 18 hours. And because it is so close to its star, surface temperatures average 3,900 degrees Fahrenheit (2,148 Celsius), rendering it completely inhospitable to life.

But the planet—just 40 lightyears away from Earth in the Cancer constellation—opens new avenues for studying geochemical and geophysical processes of Earth-sized planets outside our solar system.

The high levels of carbon may have implications on how volcanoes and earthquakes work and how mountains form—and add to the growing body of evidence that planets are far more numerous and varied than initially imagined.

“Stars are simple—given a star’s mass and age, you know its basic structure and history,” said David Spergel, a Princeton University astronomer.



“Planets are much more complex. This ‘diamond-rich super-Earth’ is likely just one example of the rich sets of discoveries that await us as we begin to explore planets around nearby stars.”

“Nearby” is a relative concept in astronomy. Any fortune-hunter not dissuaded by “The Diamond as Big as the Ritz,” F.Scott Fitzgerald’s jazz age morality tale of thwarted greed, will find Cancri e about 40 light years, or 230 trillion miles, from Park Avenue. With a report from Reuters

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  • Boy Dalius

    China: Confucius mentioned dreaming about that place – so its rightfully ours.
    Philippines: Neknek nyo. Papunta na dun PCGG (calls Imelda).

    • WeAry_Bat

      The Chinese astrologers have drawn the area in making the horoscope constellations.  Thus, they own the entire Milky Way galaxy.

  • Mabuhay

    China is now salivating to get this planet as extension of their country…..ahead of Russia and USA……

    • Rommie V. Pacana

       Ancient records show that this newly-discovered planet was one of the crown jewels of the Chinese Empire…JOKE

  • firmelilia_12LAF

    Is there a possibility this diamond-rich Super Earth planet will explode? If it’s a “nearby” planet, ala e, mga diamond ang uulan sa Pinas. Chance for the poor to get rich. O, mga mayayamang politico, wag nang makipag-agawan. Kayo naman, baka mag-choke kayo, mamatay tuloy!

    • jarjarbinx

      law of supply and demand. something abundant will not be precious.

      • Isagani Dela Cruz Fordan

        Yes..That is why we don’t care so much about  air because it’s free.We can not survive without  air in 5 minutes.Actually the most precious and important things in life are free….. Diamonds for jewelries….oh boy,its just human craziness

  • blainz

    I name this planet “Girl’s Best Friend”.

    • Ren Cena

      i suggest EMMA FROST haha (A mutant from X-men that can make her whole body tissues into a Diamond Stone…

      • blainz

        nice one!

  • Tiboy

    if you will have the technology to protect you from extreme heat 3,900 deg F. and to travel faster than 40 years one way; you’re good enough to enjoy when you can come back to earth…LOL….

  • dickenhead

    my girlfriend would love to get there

  • Mabuhay

    China will be interested to get this planet, knowing their insatiable inclination to grab what is not theirs….

    • divictes

      Ngayon lang sila kulelat… Naka alis na ang flight ni Imelda papunta doon.

    • noonyan

       No, they wont grab that planet instead they will make a look a like of that planet ( FAKE )

  • tekateka

    human intelligence is so primitive that they believe a powerful being created and designed the universe and this planet…

    • josedin

      you will know that there is one when you die and face judgment.

      • tekateka

        Religion is a scam… it’s stories are all myth…

      • noonyan

         how will you know that there is one after you die? wake up boy and read your book the meaning of MYTH

    • john mark santos

      and who do you think created and designed the universe? oh wait dont answer that coz your intelligence is so primitive

      • tekateka

        You are being scammed by your religion… it’s fake and all stories are a myth…

      • WindTalker

        best of luck to you…

      • Balahura

        Can you see your brain? …the answer is no, then you don’t have a brain…Do you think if you see a vast and grandiose design nobody made it? 

      • tekateka

        have you been living under a rock? start to educate yourself…

        don’t watch this if you want to remain dumb

        youtube: ” curiosity with stephen “

      • jarjarbinx

        Scientists don’t know the answer, but they don’t jump to conclude a creator is behind it. The Greeks thought it was Zeus, now we enjoy the myth as literature. The Scandinavians thought it was Odin. Egyptians thought it was the sun, Filipino ancestors thought it was Bathala, judaeo christians believe it to be god…. I hope we all move forward and read these myths as literary pieces. All are based on man’s ignorance not to know the answers but tries to coax people in knowing so. Remember, just 700 years ago, people “knew” the earth was flat. Now we observe the thousands of planets outside the solar system.

  • Rommel Jason

    ..see? there’s truth to nursery rhymes =)


    In that planet, diamond would be 1 cent per 100 carats.

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