A Diamond Bigger Than Earth

Some interesting news from space these days, and for once didn’t have to do with Mars. For many years, scientists at NASA and other space agencies have known about 55 Cancri e, an extrasolar planet that orbits the Sun-like star 55 Cancri A that is approximately 41 years from our system. Up until recently, it was believed that this planet was a “Super-Earth”, a planet many times the mass of Earth composed of granite.

Recently, however, scientists have announced that the planet may in fact be composed of carbon. That means, in essence, that the surface is composed of graphite and diamond. These findings come as part of a study that was released by the Institut de Recherche en Astrophysique et Planetologie in Toulouse, France. Nikku Madhusudhan, a Yale researcher who was part of the project, estimates that at least a third of the planet’s mass, the equivalent of about three Earth masses, could be diamond.

Imagine that, three entire Earth’s worth of diamonds! The mind reels at the staggering amount of wealth and opulence that this planet could produce, if only human mining teams were able to access it. However, surface conditions might complicate that a little. According to that same report, the planet is incredibly hot, with temperatures on its surface reaching 1,648 Celsius (3,900 degrees Fahrenheit). Not exactly cozy, by Earth standards.

Speaking of which, this is another aspect of the discovery which is proving exciting. According to Madhusudhan, “This is our first glimpse of a rocky world with a fundamentally different chemistry from Earth,” 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. And he’s not alone is suspecting that discoveries like this are just the tip of the iceberg, as we work our way further out into the universe and discover more examples of strange and exotic exoplanets.

Source: Yahoo News.ca

13 thoughts on “A Diamond Bigger Than Earth

    1. This is true! In fact, the value of gold and silver used to be substantially higher. It was in part of this that the Spanish were so eager to get to the New World once rumors came back of all the gold and silver that the Aztecs, Mayans, Incas, et al had. Ironically, all the plunder they took back after destroying these civilizations caused the value of these metals to drop significantly.

      1. Absolutely, Matt; certainly did. I do think though, that the price/value of diamonds will continue ‘as is’ for a while to come. That’s an awfully hot environment your talking about! Too hot for human excavation; as we know it…
        Interesting point regarding the new appreciation of varying/differing chemically based environments we are likely to encounter as we probe space…

      2. Yep, that’s the real mind-wrinkler in my opinion. Thus far, we’ve been thinking that exoplanets will be just like Solar Planets. But to think that they might be composed entirely of minerals, precious elements, or even organic matter… staggers the mind. It would also means that extra-terrestrial life could be far more exotic than we imagine.

      1. The answer I’m looking for is hilarious. “Honey, here you go. You can’t wear it, but you sure can look at it!”

  1. interestingly enough, we have enough diamonds on this planet that there’s no real reason they are as expensive as they are. That’s the dimond cartel keeping prices inflated. I mean….we can form them in labs, how valuable can they be? Still…I read a book by Alan Dean Foster once where there whole planet was crystal and carbon based. All the creatures were basically different types of stones etc. It was a fascinating read. One of my favs. Makes you wonder what kind of creatures could be potentially evolving on that planet doesn’t it?

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