This planet would definitely be a girl's best friend
WASHINGTON — 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.
In fact, this is not the first diamond planet ever discovered, but it is the first found orbiting a sun-like star and whose chemical makeup has been specified.
The discovery means that distant rocky planets can no longer be assumed to have chemical constituents, interiors, atmospheres or biologies similar to those of Earth, said lead researcher Nikku Madhusudhan, a Yale postdoctoral researcher in physics and astronomy.
The planet was first observed last year — but researchers initially assumed it was similar in its chemical make-up to Earth.
It was only after a more detailed analysis that the French-American research team determined the planet, dubbed ‘55 Cancri e,' is vastly different from our own.
The planet “appears to be composed primarily of carbon (as graphite and diamond), iron, silicon carbide, and, possibly, some silicates,” the authors wrote in a statement ahead of their findings' publication in the journal Astrophysical Journal Letters.
“The surface of this planet is likely covered in graphite and diamond rather than water and granite,” Madhusudhan noted.
In fact, the planet appears to have no water at all. And as much as a third of the planet's substantial mass could be made of diamond, a super-dense compound of carbon.
In comparison, the Earth's interior is rich in oxygen and very poor in carbon, explained study co-author Kanani Lee of Yale.
The researchers estimated the planet's radius with data collected while it was transiting in front of its star.
That information, combined with an estimate of its mass, was used to model the planet's chemical composition, based on a calculation of just what elements and compounds could result in that specific size and mass.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Starkey: Century mark beckons for Ben
- Highmark seeks double-digit increase for more benefits, heavy use
- Flyers continue mastery of Penguins at Consol
- Steelers’ defense on pace for fewest sacks in 16-game season
- Wanted sex offender caught hiding in homemade fort in Washington County
- Cops: Washington County surplus store sold stolen items
- Officials identify witness to Port Authority bus crash after releasing photo
- WPIAL, coaches are still looking to schedule Week 9 rivalry games
- Canadians more fearful, aware after ‘very rare’ attack in Ottawa
- Corbett rips Wolf tax proposals during Hempfield campaign stop
- Contempt citation sought by state against Highmark for alleged violation of deal with UPMC