Yale researchers have discovered that a rocky super-Earth orbiting a nearby star is a diamond planet. “This is our first glimpse of a rocky world with a fundamentally different chemistry from Earth,” said Dr Nikku Madhusudhan, a Yale researcher in physics and astronomy and lead author of a paper to be published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters (arXiv.org version).
“The surface of this planet is likely covered in graphite and diamond rather than water and granite.”
The planet, called 55 Cancri e, has a radius twice Earth’s, and a mass eight times greater, making it a so-called 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. Read more.