Alien Planet Made of Diamond Discovered
2011-08-26 0:00

By Nola Taylor Redd | Space.com


A newly discovered alien planet that formed from a dead star is a real diamond in the rough.

The super-high pressure of the planet, which orbits a rapidly pulsing neutron star, has likely caused the carbon within it to crystallize into an actual diamond, a new study suggests.

The composition of the planet, which is about five times the size of Earth, is not its only outstanding feature.


This illustration shows the alien planet around pulsar PSR J1719-1438, where ultra-high pressures caused carbon to crystallize in the remnant of a dead star. The planet is made of diamond and orbits a dense pulsing star with a radius smaller than that of our sun.
CREDIT: Swinburne Astronomy Productions

The planet’s parent star is a special kind of flashing star known as a millisecond pulsar, a rapidly rotating neutron star formed from a supernova. The entire system, which is only the second of its kind ever discovered, is located about 4,000 light-years from Earth in the constellation of Serpens (The Snake).

A gem of a find

Seventy percent of millisecond pulsars found have a companion, which provides additional energy to ramp up the pulsars’ rapid rotation. Generally, this companion is a dying star called a white dwarf; more than 180 millisecond pulsars have been found with white dwarfs over the years.

The only planet known to be orbiting in such a system was detected in 1992 — until now."The pulsar was found in December 2009," lead scientist Matthew Bailes of Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia, told SPACE.com via email."We’ve been on the trail of the companion ever since."



A newly discovered alien planet that formed from a dead star is a real diamond in the rough.

The super-high pressure of the planet, which orbits a rapidly pulsing neutron star, has likely caused the carbon within it to crystallize into an actual diamond, a new study suggests.

The composition of the planet, which is about five times the size of Earth, is not its only outstanding feature.

The planet’s parent star is a special kind of flashing star known as a millisecond pulsar, a rapidly rotating neutron star formed from a supernova. The entire system, which is only the second of its kind ever discovered, is located about 4,000 light-years from Earth in the constellation of Serpens (The Snake).

A gem of a find

Seventy percent of millisecond pulsars found have a companion, which provides additional energy to ramp up the pulsars’ rapid rotation. Generally, this companion is a dying star called a white dwarf; more than 180 millisecond pulsars have been found with white dwarfs over the years.

Theonly planet known to be orbiting in such a system was detected in 1992 — until now."The pulsar was found in December 2009," lead scientist Matthew Bailes of Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia, told SPACE.com via email."We’ve been on the trail of the companion ever since."

From the ashes of a supernova

Known as PSR J1719-1438, this particular pulsar completes more than 10,000 rotations in a minute. Tiny and compact, it’s only about 12 miles (20 kilometers) across, but it has a mass that is 1.4 times that of our sun.

PSR J1719-1438 transformed from an average star to a radio pulsar when a dying star in a binary system exploded. The compact core of the star formed with a very high rotation speed from the ashes of the supernova.

When the second star in the system reached the end of its life, it expanded as a red giant and finally morphed into a white dwarf. The pulsar began to suck mass off its companion, causing the pulsarto spin faster and faster until it attained its breakneck speed.

Read the full article at: space.com





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