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 A diamond planet bigger than Earth discovered

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PostSubject: A diamond planet bigger than Earth discovered   Sat 13 Oct 2012, 09:36

A diamond planet bigger than Earth discovered

LONDON - Reuters



NASA handout artist's rendition shows the planet 55
Cancri e orbiting its sun in the constellation of Cancer. REUTERS Photo.

Forget the diamond as big as the Ritz. This one's bigger than planet Earth.

Orbiting
a star that is visible to the naked eye, astronomers have discovered a
planet twice the size of our own made largely out of diamond.

The
rocky planet, called '55 Cancri e', orbits a sun-like star in the
constellation of Cancer and is moving so fast that a year there lasts a
mere 18 hours.

Discovered by a U.S.-Franco research team, its
radius is twice that of Earth's but it is much more dense with a mass
eight times greater. It is also incredibly hot, with temperatures on its
surface reaching 3,900 degrees Fahrenheit (1,648 Celsius).

"The
surface of this planet is likely covered in graphite and diamond rather
than water and granite," said Nikku Madhusudhan, the Yale researcher
whose findings are due to be published in the journal Astrophysical
Journal Letters.

The study - with Olivier Mousis at the Institut de Recherche en Astrophysique et Planetologie in Toulose, France - estimates that at least a third of the planet's mass, the equivalent of about three Earth masses, could be diamond.

Diamond
planets have been spotted before but this is the first time one has
been seen orbiting a sun-like star and studied in such detail.

"This
is our first glimpse of a rocky world with a fundamentally different
chemistry from Earth," Madhusudhan said, adding that the discovery of
the carbon-rich planet meant distant rocky planets could no longer be
assumed to have chemical constituents, interiors, atmospheres, or
biologies similar to Earth.

David Spergel, an astronomer at
Princeton University, said it was relatively simple to work out the
basic structure and history of a star once you know its mass and age.

"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."

"Nearby" is a relative
concept in astronomy. Any fortune-hunter not dissuaded by "The Diamond
as Big as the Ritz", F.Scott Fitzgerald's jazz age morality tale of
thwarted greed, will find Cancri e about 40 light years, or 230 trillion
miles, from Park Avenue.

Source:-
http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/a-diamond-planet-bigger-than-earth-discovered.aspx?pageID=238&nID=32223&NewsCatID=374
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