Australian astronomers have discovered a crystalline, diamond planet orbiting a dead star.
going to go out on a limb here and suggest that the new planet
discovered Australian scientists should be named "Lucy” — because no
other name seems right for a planet made of diamonds.
According to scientists at the Swinburne Centre for Astrophysics
& Supercomputing in Melbourne, Australia, the newfound planet
measures an estimated 34,175 miles across — which makes it five times
the size of Earth. And while that’s all well and good, it’s the planet’s
composition that has everyone buzzing.
"We are very confident it has a density about 18 times that of
water,” said study leader Matthew Bailes, whose team discovered the
planet while using the radio telescope at Australia’s Parkes
Observatory. "This means it can’t be made of gases like hydrogen and
helium like most stars, but [must be made of] heavier elements like
carbon and oxygen, making it most likely crystalline in nature, like a
diamond.”The crystalline planet was found orbiting a celestial body known as a
"millisecond pulsar” — a small, spinning remnant of a much larger star
that went supernova. Named "PSR J1719-1438,” the pulsar is one of very
few such entities to have a planet orbiting it.
According to Bailes, while planets that form around traditional,
newborn stars are created by material orbiting the star clumping
together, pulsars spin so quickly that they strip material away from
their orbiting partners. What’s left is the ultra-dense core of whatever
was in orbit.
The diamond-like planet was probably a much larger star that had its
outer layers stripped away in this fashion, the astronomer hypothesized.
Still, former star or not, we’re stilling pulling for it to be named "Lucy.”
(via National Geographic)