The Italian Almanac
The diamond Planet
Italian scientists have helped locate a planet likely made entirely of diamonds in the Milky Way. The planet is believed to be a former star about 20 times denser than Jupiter and is made of carbon and oxygen in a crystalline state. It was discovered by an international team of researchers coordinated by Swinburne University of Technology in Australia, including scientists at the Cagliari Observatory at the National Institute of Astrophysics (INAF) and the University of Cagliari in Sardinia.
Located approximately 4,000 light years away from Earth in the constellation of Serpens, the planet is believed to rotate around the extremely dense nucleus of a degenerate neutron star, which is known as a pulsar. Pulsars are generally 20 kilometers in diameter and emit a beam of radio waves that are picked up by telescopes such as those at INAF in the form of radio pulses.
The planet takes roughly two hours and 10 minutes to complete its orbit around the pulsar while simultaneously rotating 173 times in just two seconds, a process which scientists say caused the star to shed 99.9% of its original mass. "We know of a few other systems, called ultra-compact low-mass X-ray binaries, that are likely to be evolving according to the scenario above and may represent the progenitors of a pulsar like this one," said INAF director Andrea Possenti.
At an estimated 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 carats, the planet is believed to be the largest diamond in the universe.