Planet of the Diamonds

October 12th, 2012
in econ_news, syndication

Econintersect:  Scientists at Yale University and in France have a new research report accepted for publication in the Journal of Astrophysics DiamondSMALLLetters.  The report reveals new analysis of data for a planet in a solar system nearby to our own.  It appears from the analysis that the planet surface could be as much as 1/3 diamonds.  Since the planet is only 40 light years distant only travel at exceeding the speed of light (see GEI News, yesterday) stands between us and a ready, vast supply of diamonds.

Authors of the paper are Nikku Madhusudhan, Yale University geophysicist Kanani Lee, and Olivier Mousis, a planetary scientist at the Institut de Recherche en Astrophysique et Planetologie in Toulose, France.

Follow up:

Lead researcher Nikku Madhusudhan, a postdoctoral research associate at Yale is quoted in Yale News:

“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.”

New details about the planet in question was discovered only last year when it was observed transiting the line of sight to its star.  Here is further information from Yale News:

The planet — called 55 Cancri e — has a radius twice Earth’s, and a mass eight times greater, making it a “super-Earth.” It is one of five planets orbiting a sun-like star, 55 Cancri, that is located 40 light years from Earth yet visible to the naked eye in the constellation of Cancer.

The planet orbits at hyper speed — its year lasts just 18 hours, in contrast to Earth’s 365 days. It is also blazingly hot, with a temperature of about 3,900 degrees Fahrenheit, researchers said, a far cry from a habitable world.

The planet is referred to as a super earth because of its earth-like physical dimensions and its vastly greater density (which makes it "super").  It is very unearthlike though, in the opinion of scientists, with high levels of the elements carbon, iron, silicon and their compounds.  There are much lower levels of oxygen and water (possibly no water at all).  For earth the interior of the planet is oxygen rich and carbon poor.


John Lounsbury


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