Feeds

Shine on you crazy diamond: Distant dwarf may hide space jewel

Cool dim star? Insert your Keanu Reeves joke here

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Astronomers say they have discovered a white dwarf star that could be the coldest of its type ever detected.

The boffins said that the dwarf star resides alongside the pulsar PSR J2222-0137 and could hold at its core a diamond the size of the earth. Estimates would place the star's age at 11 billion years, roughly the same as the Milky Way galaxy.

White dwarf stars, because of their small size, appear extremely faint, and so can be incredibly difficult to spot from Earth – even with high-powered telescopes.

The team, drawing on data collected from the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), Green Bank Telescope and Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) observatories said they were able to detect the extremely faint star some 900 light years away by observing the gravitational effect the star had on its companion pulsar's radio signals.

"It's a really remarkable object," said team member and University of Milwaukee Wisconsin professor David Kaplan.

"These things should be out there, but because they are so dim they are very hard to find."

Despite being slightly more massive (1.05 times) than the Sun, the dwarf is believed to be 5,000 times cooler. The 3,000 kelvin temperature would possibly make it the coldest known white dwarf.

At the heart of the star, say researchers, is a mass of crystallized carbon described as "diamond-like" and roughly the size of the Earth, formed from the center of the collapsed star.

The massive rock wouldn't be the first time astronomers have spotted a space-diamond orbiting pulsar. In 2011, Australian researchers used a similar detection method to spot a crystallized carbon mass around the pulsar PSR J1719-1438.

Another diamond planet was said to possibly be orbiting the star 55 Cancru e, though the composition of that planet has been questioned. ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
GRAV WAVE DRAMA: 'Big Bang echo' may have been grit on the scanner – boffins
Exit Planet Dust on faster-than-light expansion of universe
Mine Bitcoins with PENCIL and PAPER
Forget Sudoku, crunch SHA-256 algos
SpaceX Dragon cargo truck flies 3D printer to ISS: Clawdown in 3, 2...
Craft berths at space station with supplies, experiments, toys
NASA rover Curiosity drills HOLE in MARS 'GOLF COURSE'
Joins 'traffic light' and perfect stony sphere on the Red Planet
'This BITE MARK is a SMOKING GUN': Boffins probe ancient assault
Tooth embedded in thigh bone may tell who pulled the trigger
DOLPHINS SMELL MAGNETS – did we hear that right, boffins?
Xavier's School for Gifted Magnetotaceans
Big dinosaur wowed females with its ENORMOUS HOOTER
That's right, Doris, I've got biggest snout in the prehistoric world
Japanese volcano eruption reportedly leaves 31 people presumed dead
Hopes fade of finding survivors on Mount Ontake
That glass of water you just drank? It was OLDER than the SUN
One MEELLION years older. Some of it anyway
prev story

Whitepapers

A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.