Planet Made Of Diamond Found Floating Around Small Star

By: Pat Prescott
Published: Aug 26, 2021

Astronomers have found a planet they believe to be made of diamond floating around a small star, and it appears to be far denser than any other known so far and consists largely of carbon.

Because it is so dense, scientists calculate the carbon on the planet must be crystalline, so a large part of this strange world will effectively be diamond.

The planet is calculated to have a diameter of less than 60,000 km, which is about five times the diameter of Earth. It has more mass than Jupiter. It is located 4,000 light-years away in the constellation of Serpens in our Milky Way galaxy.

The discovery was made by a team of researchers from Australia, Germany, Italy, the U.K. and the U.S., led by the Swinburne University of Technology’s Professor Matthew Bailes. Astronomers used the CSIRO Parkes radio telescope in Australia, Lovell radio telescope in the United Kingdom and one of the Keck telescopes in Hawaii. They identified an unusual star called a pulsar known as PSR J1719-1438. The evolutionary history and amazing density of the planet all suggest it is comprised of carbon, which is a massive diamond orbiting a neutron star every two hours in an orbit so tight it would fit inside our own Sun.

The researchers believe that the “diamond planet” is the remnant of a once large star, most of whose matter was siphoned off towards the pulsar. Pulsars are highly magnetized rotating neutron stars that emit a beam of electromagnetic radiation. The radiation can only be observed when the beam of emission is pointing towards the Earth.

“This remnant is likely to be largely carbon and oxygen, because a star made of lighter elements like hydrogen, and helium would be too big to fit the measured orbiting times,” said the CSIRO’s Dr Michael Keith (CSIRO), one of the research team members.

“The rarity of millisecond pulsars with planet-mass companions means that producing such ‘exotic planets’ is the exception rather than the rule, and requires special circumstances,” said Dr Benjamin Stappers from the University of Manchester.

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