Over the last few days, the science world has been buzzing with news of an extremely exciting discovery. Astronomers from Australia have discovered a planet made entirely of diamonds! Move over Breakfast at Tiffany’s, I’m bringing my bacon and eggs straight to space!
The story of the Diamond Planet, which has been affectionately dubbed ‘Lucy’ due to The Beatles’ ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’ song, began a few years ago. In 2009, scientists discovered a dying star, called a pulsar, way out in space. Pulsars are essentially the leftovers from a star, analogous to crumbs left over from your evening meal. One of the characteristics of this particular type of pulsar is that it spins really, really fast (10,000 rpm to be kind of exact). This spinning creates a sort of vortex, which pulls things close towards it.
Most of these pulsars though are found with another space body orbiting around it. So after the 2009 discovery, scientists were looking frantically for its partner. Eventually, they found a planet about 5 times the size of Earth, orbiting the pulsar. After some analysis, they discovered that the planet was in fact, made out of diamonds.
The scientists suggest that this diamond planet was once actually a star (romantic, isn’t it). As this star came to the end of its lifetime, it became what is known as a white dwarf. The white dwarf began orbiting the pulsar and, due to the pulsar’s rapid rotation, had its outer shell ripped off. It wasn’t long before only the core of the white dwarf remained. But why exactly is the core of this white dwarf made of diamonds? Well the white dwarf itself was quite massive; as massive as Jupiter. So under such intense gravitational pressure and heat, the carbon core would have transformed into diamonds. It’s a similar process to what happens on Earth.
There you have it folks, a diamond planet. But don’t go thinking you can just hop on the next Virgin Galactic Space Flight to see it. Lucy is a good 3,7810 trillion kilometres away. If you did somehow manage to get there though, it would be worth it. The diamond planet is thought to be about 10 billion trillion trillion carats, which in today’s money, would be worth about a gajillion bajillion dollars.