Planet made of diamond discovered outside the solar system

In a study published this week in the magazine Science, an international team of astronomers announced that they located a small planet made ​​entirely of diamond.

This celestial body measures almost 64,000 km in diameter, which means that it is five times bigger than the Earth, and it lies 4,000 light years away, or around an eighth of the way towards the centre of the Milky Way from the Earth.

“The evolutionary history and amazing density of the planet all suggest it is comprised of carbon — i.e. a massive diamond orbiting a neutron star every two hours in an orbit so tight it would fit inside our own Sun,” says Matthew Bailes, an astronomer in Swinburne Univerity of Technology in Melbourne, Australia.

The planet is said to be in fact the remnant of a once-massive star that turned into a mass of crystallized carbon.

Despite its small size, the celestial body is 20 times as dense as Jupiter. The density indicates that the material of which it is formed is crystalline. In other words, the planet is composed mostly of diamond.

In addition to carbon, the planet also contains small amounts of oxygen, hydrogen and helium.

“In terms of what it would look like, I don’t know I could even speculate. I don’t imagine that a picture of a very shiny object is what we’re looking at here,” said Ben Stappers of the University of Manchester .”