Pure diamonds can be the main component of a planet about 40 light-years from Earth and belonging to the Cancer constellation.
55 Cancri e , the name of one of the five planets revolving around the 55 Cancri star in the Cancer constellation, has twice the diameter of the globe, but the volume is 8 times larger. It rotates around its own star for just 18 hours, too short for the Earth's 365-day period, and very hot. The star 55 Cancri and its five planets are about 40 light-years away from Earth and were discovered in 2004. Humans can see 55 Cancri visually at night.
Structural illustration of the planet 55 Cancri e. It is covered with graphite shell. Diamonds make up the next layer (white). Minerals containing silicon (gray) form the floor below the diamond layer. The core of the planet is a giant iron block (orange). (Photo: Space).
After analyzing the mass, the diameter of the planets and the structure of the star, Yale University scientists in the US concluded that the main component of 55 Cancri e is carbon (diamond or graphite). It also contains iron, silicon carbides and even silicate. Pure diamonds occupy at least 1/3 of the planet's mass, Space reported.
'This is a rocky planet with a completely different chemical structure from Earth. It's very likely that its surface is covered with graphite and diamonds, not by water and granite like the globe, 'said Nikku Madhusudhan, the research leader.
Scientists have hypothesized the existence of diamond planets in the universe, but perhaps 55 Cancri e was the first diamond planet that humans discovered. Diamond planets have a very different material composition than the globe. For example, our planet has a lot of oxygen and very little carbon (less than one thousandth), while the other planet has a lot of carbon and no (or very little) oxygen.
The research team will continue to observe the 55 Cancri star system to better understand the planet's star and atmospheric composition 55 Cancri e. They hope the new data will help them make sure that the planet is a block of diamond.