Monday, August 29, 2011

Carats in the Milky Way – Discovery of the Diamond Planet

If that sounds like something out of a far-fetched Star Trek episode, think again. Astronomers at the University of Manchester announced they have found a planet made of just that, diamonds.

The team first detected an unusual star called a pulsar - a small star about 20 kilometers in diameter that emits a beam of radio waves - and followed up to discover the gravitational pull of a small companion planet orbiting the pulsar. The pulsar in question, they explain, is a millisecond pulsar that spins at more than 10,000 times per minute.

The astronomers believe that the diamond planet is all that remains of a once massive star, most of whose matter was siphoned off towards the pulsar. Given the close proximity between the pulsar and its companion, the star would have lost its outer layers and over 99.9 percent of its original mass. Click to read more

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