Diamond `super-earth` may not be `so precious`

Last Updated: Wednesday, October 9, 2013 - 13:56

Washington: An alien world reported to be the first known planet to consist largely of diamond appears less likely to be of such precious nature, a new analysis has shown.

According to new research led by University of Arizona astronomy graduate student Johanna Teske, the planet that is 40 light years from our solar system, believed to be the first-ever discovered planet to consist largely of diamond, may in fact be of less exquisite nature.

Revisiting public data from previous telescope observations, Teske`s team analyzed the available data in more detail and concluded that carbon - the chemical element diamonds are made of - appears to be less abundant in relation to oxygen in the planet`s host star - and by extension, perhaps the planet - than was suggested by a study of the host star published in 2010.
Teske said that the 2010 paper found that `55 Cancri e,` a star that hosts five planets, has a carbon-to-oxygen ratio greater than one.

She said that this observation helped motivate a paper last year about the innermost planet of the system, the `super-Earth` 55 Cancri e.

Teske asserted that using observations of the planet`s mass and radius to create models of its interior that assumed the same carbon-to-oxygen ratio of the star, the 2012 paper suggested the planet contains more carbon than oxygen.

She said that the sun only has about half as much carbon as oxygen, so a star or a planet with a higher ratio between the two elements, particularly a planet with more carbon than oxygen, is interesting and different from what we have in our solar system.

Teske`s group found that the planet`s host star contains almost 25 percent more oxygen than carbon, about mid way between the Sun and what the previous study suggested.

The new research is set to be published in the Astrophysical Journal and available online.


First Published: Wednesday, October 9, 2013 - 13:56
comments powered by Disqus