A planet made of diamond

ASTRONOMERS think they've recently found a star that was transformed and condensed into a planet made of solid diamond.

The discovery was made by an international research team with scientists from Australia, Germany, Italy, the UK and the USA, including Prof. Michael Kramer from Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany.

The team was able to detect the "diamond planet" with the 64m radio telescope in Parkes, Australia, and found out that it orbits an unusual star known as a pulsar.

The team thinks that the planet is the tiny core that remained of a once-massive star after narrowly missing destruction by its matter being siphoned off towards the pulsar. They found the pulsar among almost 200,000 Gigabytes of data using special codes on supercomputers at Swinburne University of Technology, at The University of Manchester and at the INAF-Osservatorio Astronomico di Cagliari.

The astronomers consolidated their findings with follow-up observations with the Lovell radio telescope in the UK and one of the Keck telescopes on Hawaii.

The pulsar and its planet lie 4,000 light years away in the constellation of Serpens.

The system is about an eighth of the way towards the Galactic Centre from the Earth and is part of the Milky Way's plane of stars.

The original research paper in which the discovery was first announced can be found here.

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