Scientists discover diamond planet

2012-10-11 17:07

London - Forget the diamond as big as the Ritz. This one's bigger than planet Earth.

Orbiting a star that is visible to the naked eye, astronomers have discovered a planet twice the size of our own made largely out of diamond.

The rocky planet, called '55 Cancri e', orbits a sun-like star in the constellation of Cancer and is moving so fast that a year there lasts a mere 18 hours.

Discovered by a US-Franco research team, its radius is twice that of Earth's but it is much denser with a mass eight times greater. It is also incredibly hot, with temperatures on its surface reaching 1 648°C.

"The surface of this planet is likely covered in graphite and diamond rather than water and granite," said Nikku Madhusudhan, the Yale researcher whose findings are due to be published in the journal Astrophysical Journal Letters.

Three Earth masses

The study - with Olivier Mousis at the Institut de Recherche en Astrophysique et Planetologie in Toulose, France - estimates that at least a third of the planet's mass, the equivalent of about three Earth masses, could be diamond.

Diamond planets have been spotted before but this is the first time one has been seen orbiting a sun-like star and studied in such detail.

"This is our first glimpse of a rocky world with a fundamentally different chemistry from Earth," Madhusudhan said, adding that the discovery of the carbon-rich planet meant distant rocky planets could no longer be assumed to have chemical constituents, interiors, atmospheres, or biologies similar to Earth.

David Spergel, an astronomer at Princeton University, said it was relatively simple to work out the basic structure and history of a star once you know its mass and age.

"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", FScott Fitzgerald's jazz age morality tale of thwarted greed, will find Cancri e about 40 light years, or trillions of kilometres from earth.

  • Jellyarse - 2012-10-11 17:19

    Nationalise these planets - If you can see it with the naked eye then this belongs to our people and should be shared among us that have been prejudiced by this racist regime before 1994, Now hurry up all you white scientists and develop a spaceship that can get there and bring it back for us. Once you have done that we can nationalise this airline too and our Taxi operators can run it as a successful business.

      llozi - 2012-10-11 17:55

      Eish you guys...everything is always about race here on news24!! Do you guys hate us this much?? Must one try by all means to avoid reading comments..sad really!!!!!!

      Cameron - 2012-10-11 18:01

      Correct. this discovery needs to be Nationalized... in fact..this comment needs to be nationalized!

      desertratbkf - 2012-10-11 18:19

      @Jellyarse - BRILLIANT!!!!!!! I rest my case.

      theO rAcLe - 2012-10-11 18:44

      @ Tankiso Its a good thing our ancestors can't see the shEEt that's happened to our country and to this world..All you guys do is want want want, try working together in an effort to save this planet, not working together for a higher pay cheque..oops sorry, don't say cheque that's not money ...Try living beyond your monthly or weekly pay, try not be corrupt, try to think about where you will be in 10 years, plan your future, think about your children that's if you can remember them all, try not be like the animals but more like intelligent individuals, try to work for what you want. look at similar situations that have preceded your plans, learn from that....THINK THINK THINK. FFS

      ray.priestley.79 - 2012-10-11 18:46

      Good place to send the platinum miners at R16000 per month.

      desertratbkf - 2012-10-11 20:03

      @Ray - Good idea! And just leave them there!

      Jellyarse - 2012-10-12 07:24

      Tankiso - My Grandfather was likely to see it, being educated, observant, and entrepreneurial. Yours on the other hand, was far too busy protesting, burning tyres, wanting everything for free and giving one to your Sister. Who's the B**tch!

  • ron.landry.18 - 2012-10-11 17:48


      AntiThesis - 2012-10-11 18:05


      greg.quinn.353 - 2012-10-11 19:07

      @ron You're probably so narrow minded you think it's impossible for other life forms to exist in the universe as well.

      desertratbkf - 2012-10-11 20:25

      @Ron - Exactly! Why?????

      jody.beggs - 2012-10-12 09:50

      Just read your buy bull and shut the hell up ...

      thebe.motshwadira - 2012-11-12 13:16

      Ron probably still think earth is flat otherwise how do we explain australians walking upright

  • joe.blogs.98837399 - 2012-10-11 17:48

    For my wife !!

      crracker.crackerr - 2012-10-11 18:13

      I've already taken possession. Quote me a price. Quickly. For I am about to hand the tender over to someone else.

  • Tony Lapson - 2012-10-11 18:13

    It's just a shiny rock. Jewelry is shallow. All diamonds to science and engineering!

  • Morgoth - 2012-10-11 18:14

    Mine! I saw it first!

  • sunith.varkey - 2012-10-11 18:24

    Perfect for the ring if mother earth decides to get married

  • crracker.crackerr - 2012-10-11 18:28

    I repeat for the last time. Quote me a price NOW! I hear some commotion outside. It is Julius and his motorcade. He wants it all.

      desertratbkf - 2012-10-11 18:31

      The figure R12 500 comes to mind!

      crracker.crackerr - 2012-10-11 18:41

      Bradley Froud My ou maat! Once, twice, three times! Congrats! Your deposit please and then I'll give you the exact cosmological co-ordinates to take possession. But somehow I would have preferred to sell it to Julius. At least the neighbourhood would not have had to inhale the smelly burning tyres as they race away. Now he is a dikbek.

      desertratbkf - 2012-10-11 20:10

      Mmmm youre right. Just give it to him! Lets see how he shares it with his Economic Freedom buddies!

  • jason.marshall.1804 - 2012-10-11 19:33

    Bring me some evidence ;)

      jody.beggs - 2012-10-12 09:51

      Its there for everyone to see , try google , she is your friend ...

  • SamGoldberg - 2012-10-11 21:09

    This would look perfect on Saturn's ring.

  • steveroodt - 2012-10-11 22:42

    All i can say is do not invest in Diamonds Now will not be worth anything in the future

  • norbert.schweighofer - 2012-10-11 22:43

    llozi, dont take some comments serious. Just think who makes them. You always get people which fell on there heads at birth.

  • vincent.vinsaint - 2012-10-12 03:24

    55 Cancri...samples please. You saw such before and don't have samples. You seeing one now...bring me samples in discreet please.

  • jody.beggs - 2012-10-12 09:51

    Possibilities are limitless. Thanks science , f%^& you religion ...

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