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article imageInternational scientists discover alien planet made of diamond

By Andrew Moran     Aug 26, 2011 in Science
Melbourne - An international research team has stumbled upon an alien planet in our Milky Way galaxy that was once a massive star and is now made of diamond. The planet is located close to a pulsar and orbits the star in just two hours and 10 minutes.
According to a university news release, an international research team, led by Matthew Bailes, a Swinburne University of Technology scientist based in Melbourne, Australia, discovered a planet that is mostly diamond.
Approximately 4,000 light years towards the centre of the Milky Way galaxy lies an exotic alien planet that is denser than any other planet discovered and is mostly made up of carbon and some oxygen. Due to the density, the carbon is likely to consist of crystalline.
The diamond planet, formerly believed to be a massive star, orbits a pulsar star – small, dead neutron stars that rotate hundreds of times per second and emits beams of radiation. The planet orbits Pulsar J1719-1438 (a millisecond pulsar) in just two hours and 10 seconds.
“The ultimate fate of the binary is determined by the mass and orbital period of the donor star at the time of mass transfer,” said University of Manchester researcher, Dr. Benjamin Stappers. “The rarity of millisecond pulsars with planet-mass companions means that producing such ‘exotic planets’ is the exception rather than the rule, and requires special circumstances.”
They are quite close to each other and this has led to the researchers to conclude that the planet is a white dwarf and has lost its outer layers and 99.9 percent of its original mass. The planet has more mass than the planet Jupiter but is about 20 times less dense.
This find was made during a general search of pulsars in the sky utilizing the 100 metre Effelsberg radio telescope of the Max-Planck-Institute for Radioastronomy (MPIfR) in Germany.
“We know of a few other systems, called ultra-compact low-mass X-ray binaries, that are likely to be evolving according to this scenario and may likely represent the progenitors of a pulsar like J1719-1438,” said Director of Italy’s INAF-Osservatorio Astronomico di Cagliari, Dr. Andrea Possenti.
The look of the planet remains a mystery for scientists.
Results of this study can be found in the Aug. 25 edition of Science.
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