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Posted at 02:00 PM ET, 08/26/2011

Diamond planet discovered by astronomers


(Swinburne University)
A diamond-crystal planet five times the size of Earth and with more mass than Jupiter has been discovered in our own Milky Way galaxy.

An international team of astronomers led by Swinburne University of Technology in Australia spotted the exotic planet racing around a tiny star 4,000 light years away and published their findings Thursday in the journal Science.

The “cosmic bling,” as Wired called it, is far denser than any other known planet, consisting mostly of carbon. It is because of this density that the carbon must be crystalline, making a large part of the planet diamond.

In addition to carbon, the new planet is likely to also harbor oxygen but not hydrogen and helium.

Astronomers believe the diamond planet was once a huge star of its own before a companion pulsar ripped off its outer later and stole most of its mass.

Pulsars are dead neutron stars that emit beams of high radiation that appear almost like blinking lights. The diamond planet orbits a fast-spinning pulsar that’s about 12 miles in diameter, around the same size as London.

Reuters reports that researchers from institutions in five countries used a variety of radio telescopes and 200,000 gigabytes of data to find the diamond planet and its companion pulsar.

Radio telescope data show that the glittery planet orbits its star at a distance of about 370,000 miles, making a year on planet diamond just two hours long.

By  |  02:00 PM ET, 08/26/2011

 
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