We publish courtesy of Israeli Diamond Industry Blog
Author: Roe Kalb
A Princeton University team of astronomers has discovered a diamond-studded star.
The team, led by Nikku Madhusudhan, has identified the planet WASP-12b – which orbits a star some 1,200 light years from Earth. WASP-12b is unusually hot (its temperatures approach 2300° C) and is the first planet identified that contains more carbon than oxygen. Its atmospheric composition was measured using a tool Madhusudhan developed when he was a student at MIT.
The core of WASP-12b contains diamonds and graphite, the two pure mineral forms of carbon. Madhusudhan explained that the discovery of a carbon-rich planet could cause astronomers to rethink “long-ingrained ideas of planetary formation.”
WASP-12b (larger than Jupiter) is located so near its star that it requires only a single day to complete an orbit. Even though one side is always facing away from its sun, the planet’s gaseous nature and strong winds distribute heat more or less evenly over the its entire surface.
Madhusudhan explained that if other planets containing more carbon that oxygen exist and have solid rather than gaseous surfaces, those planets’ ordinary rocks could be made of diamonds and graphite instead of the silicon and oxygen compounds found on Earth. Sand, he added, would be as rare on those planets as diamonds are here.