Nearby super-Earth likely a diamond planet

New research led by Yale University scientists suggests that a rocky planet twice Earth’s size 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 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.”

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. Star map showing the planet-hosting star 55 Cancri in the constellation of Cancer. The star is visible to the naked eye, though better through binoculars. Credit: Nikku Madhusudhan; created using Sky Map Online

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. Via Nearby super-Earth likely a diamond planet.

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