Scientists have announced the discovery of a planet made almost entirely of diamonds — a find that puts the Hope Diamond, along with all other massive Earth diamonds, to shame.
The planet, called 55 Cancri e, is located in a solar system inside the constellation of Cancer, reports NBC News. It was discovered in 2004, and scientists have been working since then to determine its mass and radius, as well as study its host star’s composition.
The planet is called a “super-Earth,” and scientists believe that the rocky world is composed mostly of carbon (in the form of either graphite or diamond). It also includes iron, silicon carbide, and possibly silicates.
Scientists also believe, based on their research, that at least one-third of the planet’s mass is pure diamond. Lead researcher Nikku Madhusudhan of Yale University stated:
“This is our first glimpse of a rocky world with a fundamentally different chemistry from Earth. The surface of this planet is likely covered in graphite and diamond rather than water and granite.”
While worlds like the “diamond planet” of 55 Cancri e have been theorized before, and at least one has been discovered before now, it is the first of its kind to be identified orbiting around a sun-like star. Yahoo! News notes that Madhusudhan’s study on the planet was published in the journal Astrophysical Journal Letters.
Princeton University astronomer David Spergel stated that it is relatively easy to find out a star’s basic structure and history once its age and mass have been discovered. He added:
“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.”
How would you like to go visit the “diamond planet” 55 Cancri e?