11 December 2010
And now there's Planet Bling
Hot on the heels of the discovery of a Zirconium star, Astronomers seem to have discovered diamond planet… of sorts anyway. According to the BBC a team of UK and US astronomers, including members of Keele University's astrophysics group, have found that the conditions on planet WASP-12b means that there it may be rich in diamonds.
The planet is the size of Jupiter, is a carbon-rich planet and orbits a star 1,200 light years away from Earth. It was originally found last year by the Wide Angle Search for Planets (WASP) project, the UK's leading team of planet discoverers. Since then it has been observed by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope.
"Because WASP-12b is so close to its star and so hot," explains Prof Coel Hellier, "the Spitzer Space Telescope can detect the heat of the planet, and studying this radiation tells us which molecules are in its atmosphere."
"Predicting that there would be diamonds is an extrapolation, but we think that there could well be diamonds in a solar system made of the sort of material that this planet is made of," added Prof Hellier
Well there you have it. The galaxy just gets stranger and stranger….