Scientists believe planet twice Earth’s size orbiting nearby star is made of diamonds

Oct 12, 2012
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Scientists believe planet twice Earth’s size orbiting nearby star is made of diamonds

A bit over a year ago, we talked a bit about a planet scientists had discovered that they believed was festooned with diamonds. Scientists conducting planetary research led by a team from Yale University have discovered a planet roughly twice the size of the Earth orbiting a nearby star they believed has a thick layer of diamond material. The planet is called 55 Cancri e.

The scientists say that this is the first glimpse we have had of a rocky world with a fundamentally different chemistry from the Earth. The planet is said to be extremely hot with the surface mostly composed of graphite surrounding a thick layer of diamond. The scientists believe that underneath that thick layer of diamond is a layer of silicon-based minerals and a molten iron core at the center.

The Earth's surface is mostly covered in granite and water, this newly discovered planet is believed to be mostly covered in graphite and diamond. 55 Cancri e has a radius of twice the Earth's and is eight times more massive putting it into the category of super-Earth. The planet is one of five that orbits a sun-like star called 55 Cancri.

The star is 40 light years from Earth and visible to the naked eye in the constellation of Cancer. The planet orbits its star a very fast speed with a year lasting only 18 hours. The surface temperature of the planet is believed to be about 3900°F. The scientists estimate that as much as a third of the planet's mass could be diamond.

[via Yale]


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