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Found in space, a diamond planet

world Updated: Aug 27, 2011 00:37 IST

AFP
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Astronomers have documented what they believe is the first tiny planet made of diamond some 4,000 light years away, according to a study published Thursday.

The discovery of the fast-spinning gem world that has more mass than Jupiter was made by an international team of researchers who published their findings in the journal Science.

The diamond planet was once a huge star that is now a white dwarf after it lost most of its matter to its companion pulsar. A white dwarf is what remains after a star exhausts most of its energy while a pulsar is a neutron star about 20 km in diameter with an intense magnetic field that sends off pulses of high radiation that appear almost like blinking lights.

The planet is believed to be 60,000 km in diameter, or five times Earth’s diameter. It orbits the pulsar every two hours and 10 minutes.

“It is likely to be largely carbon and oxygen, because a star made of lighter elements like hydrogen and helium would be too big to fit that orbiting times," said researcher Michael Keith.