Feeds

That 'DIAMOND SUPER EARTH' may actually be WORTHLESS ball of gas

Priceless planet could be filled with hot air - literally

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

A "diamond super Earth" discovered a year ago may not be anywhere near as valuable as previously suggested.

A graduate student at the University of Arizona has examined data that appeared to point to the existence of a diamond-stuffed world circling 55 Cancri, a star which is 40 light-years away from Earth.

Scientists at Yale had earlier suggested that the precious planet 55 Cancri e was a rocky globe with a shell of graphite surrounding a thick layer of diamond, but this has now been thrown into doubt.

Credit: Haven Giguere/Yale University

Shine on, you crazy diamond ... 55 Cancri e as imagined by Haven Giguere/Yale University

Johanna Teske, an astronomy PhD student, and her team looked at data relating to the chemical makeup of 55 Cancri as that information can indicate the composition of the planets built by the star. She found the burning orb contained much less carbon than originally indicated, and even more oxygen.

She therefore reckons the diamond world has a similar constitution to its star, meaning it is likely to be made of less carbon - and therefore diamond - than once hoped.

"In theory, 55 Cancri e could still have a high carbon to oxygen ratio and be a diamond planet, but the host star does not have such a high ratio," Teske said.

"So in terms of the two building blocks of information used for the initial 'diamond-planet' proposal – the measurements of the exoplanet and the measurements of the star – the measurements of the star no longer verify that."

The so-called super Earth is the smallest of five planets orbiting 55 Cancri. It orbits the star at such speed that a year lasts just 18 hours and its surface temperature soars to more than 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit - almost enough to melt platinum.

"This planet is probably rocky or has a large rocky component," Teske continued. "We don't really know if it has an atmosphere."

She added: "Depending on where 55 Cancri e formed in the protoplanetary disk [around its sun], its carbon-to-oxygen ratio could differ from that of the host star. It could be higher or lower. But based on what we know at this point, 55 Cancri e is more of a 'diamond in the rough'."

The work of Teske and her team [PDF] is due to be published in the Astrophysical Journal. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
SCREW YOU, Russia! NASA lobs $6.8bn at Boeing AND SpaceX to run space station taxis
Musk charging nearly half as much as Boeing for crew trips
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Thought that last dinosaur was BIG? This one's bloody ENORMOUS
Weighed several adult elephants, contend boffins
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
India's MOM Mars mission makes final course correction
Mangalyaan probe will feel the burn of orbital insertion on September 24th
Cracked it - Vulture 2 power podule fires servos for 4 HOURS
Pixhawk avionics juice issue sorted, onwards to Spaceport America
City hidden beneath England's Stonehenge had HUMAN ABATTOIR. And a pub
Boozed-up ancients drank beer before tearing corpses apart
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.