Scientists have reported the existence of a diamond planet that is twice the size of Earth and currently zooming around a nearby star.
"Diamonds are a girl's best friend." And so will be the newly discovered diamond planet. Earth may just lose all its women. On Thursday, researcher Nikku Madhusudhan, a postdoctoral fellow at Yale University's Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics announced the existence of a "diamond planet" that is twice the size of Earth and eight times its mass.
This is not the first time a diamond planet has been discovered but it's the first that has been seen orbiting a sun-like star. "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 Madhusudhan.
It "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 US journal Astrophysical Journal Letters.
"The surface of this planet is likely covered in graphite and diamond rather than water and granite," he explained.
But the planet -- just 40 lightyears away from Earth in the Cancer constellation -- opens new avenues for studying geochemical and geophysical processes of Earth-sized planets outside our solar system.
The high levels of carbon may have implications on how volcanoes and earthquakes work and how mountains form -- and add to the growing body of evidence that planets are far more numerous and varied than initially imagined.
"Stars are simple -- given a star's mass and age, you know its basic structure and history," said David Spergel, a Princeton University astronomer.
"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."
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