Planet with diamond three times the mass of the Earth; Research

Artist's rendition of the interior of 55 Cancri eResearchers have found a diamond planet that is twice the size of the Earth orbiting a nearby star.

This research has been done by the researchers from the Yale University and has been accepted for publication in Astrophysical Journal Letters.

“This is our first glimpse of a rocky world with a fundamentally different chemistry from Earth,” said lead researcher Nikku Madhusudhan, a Yale postdoctoral researcher in physics and astronomy. “The surface of this planet is likely covered in graphite and diamond rather than water and granite.”

55 Cancri in the constellation of CancerThis planet has been dubbed as “55 Cancri e”. This planet is twice the radius of the Earth but eight times the mass of our Earth; thereby scientists are referring it as “Super-Earth”. It is orbiting the star 55 Cancri, which is sun-like star, located about 40 light years away from Earth. As this is not so far, so it is slightly visible to the naked eye in the constellation of the Cancer.

This planet has another very interesting phenomenon of super fast speed as it completes one year in 18 hours – our Earth takes 365 days to complete a year. It is also very hot with a temperature of about 3,900 degrees Fahrenheit.

Astronomers have confirmed that during the formation of the planet substantial quantity of carbon and silicon carbide, and a negligible amount of water ice were present. Previously, astronomers were of the opinion that the planet has a substantial amount of super heated water but this new research has shown that the planet has no water at all. Instead it is found to be composed of carbon (as graphite and diamond), iron, silicon carbide, and, possibly, some silicates. Its chemical makeup is showing that at least a third of the planet’s mass is made up of diamond.

“Stars are simple — given a star’s mass and age, you know its basic structure and history,” said David Spergel, professor of astronomy and chair of astrophysical sciences at Princeton University, who is not a co-author of the study. “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.”

Reference:

Nikku Madhusudhan, Kanani K. M. Lee, Olivier Mousis, (2012). A Possible Carbon-rich Interior in Super-Earth 55 Cancri e. Astrophysical Journal Letters. 

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