Astronomers believe they have found an entire planet made of diamonds. Scientists at the University of Manchester think they have unearthed a once-massive star in the Milky Way that has been transformed into a small planet made of the precious rock.
The international research team first detected an unusual star, called a pulsar, and followed up their discovery with research using a telescope based in an observatory in Cheshire.
The findings led the scientists to discover the gravitational pull of a small companion planet orbiting the pulsar.
Schematic view of the Pulsar-Planet system PSR J1719-1438 showing the pulsar with 5.7 ms rotation period in the centre, and the orbit of the planet in comparison to the size of the sun (marked in yellow).
Credit: Swinburne Astronomy Productions, Swinburne University of Technology (Click image for higher resolution).
Pulsars are small spinning stars more than ten miles in diameter – the size of a small city – that emit a beam of radio waves.
It is believed to be the remnant of another, huge star which transferred its energy to the pulsar when it died, leaving behind a crystallised core made of carbon and oxygen, similar to diamond.