Feeds

World of diamonds bigger than the Ritz discovered

Strange carbon mountains of farflung planet

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

A curious world orbiting a star 1200 light years from our own solar system could be home to diamonds of enormous, unparalleled size, say boffins.

The planet WASP-12b was discovered last year by a group of UK astronomers, the Wide Angle Search for Planets. Since then it has been probed intensively by NASA's Spitzer telescope in orbit above the Earth's atmosphere.

US boffins poring over the Spitzer data have now announced that WASP-12b is the first "carbon rich" world ever discovered among the hundreds of planets known to humanity. The strange, huge world has much more carbon in its makeup than is generally found, which means that a variety of rare forms of the element are likely to be common there.

“On most planets, oxygen is abundant. It makes rocks such as quartz and gases such as carbon dioxide," says Florida-based prof Joseph Harrington. “With more carbon than oxygen, you would get rocks of pure carbon, such as diamond or graphite, and lots of methane gas."

Quite apart from the probably diamond or graphite mountains to be found there, WASP-12b is strange and unearthly in other ways. It orbits its sun - a fairly regular type star not dissimilar to our own - so closely that daylight temperatures of around 2590°C would be normal there, and the planet's year lasts just 26 of your Earth hours.

"This planet tells us that there are many other strange worlds out there, beyond even the imaginations of the people doing the science," comments Nikku Madhusudhan of MIT, lead boffin on the Spitzer study.

Full boffinry on the findings is published in the big brains' big-brain mag Nature, here (subscription required for the full paper). ®

The Power of One Infographic

More from The Register

next story
World Solar Challenge contender claims new speed record
One charge sees Sunswift travel 500kms at over 100 km/h
SMELL YOU LATER, LOSERS – Dumbo tells rats, dogs... humans
Junk in the trunk? That's what people have
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
Beancounters tell NASA it's too poor to fly planned mega-rocket
Space Launch System would need another $400m and a lot of time
Jurassic squawk: Dinos were Earth's early FEATHERED friends
Boffins research: Ancient dinos may all have had 'potential' fluff
Bad back? Show some spine and stop popping paracetamol
Study finds common pain-killer doesn't reduce pain or shorten recovery
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.