Image credit - Swinburne Astronomy Productions
This is one gigantic rock! Now, if we could only find a planet made of gold...
(PHYSORG)- A once-massive star that's been transformed into a small planet made of diamond: that is what University of Manchester astronomers think they've found in the Milky Way.
The discovery has been made by an international research team, led by Professor Matthew Bailes of Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia, and is reported in the journal Science.
The researchers, from The University of Manchester as well as institutions in Australia, Germany, Italy, and the USA, first detected an unusual star called a pulsar using the Parkes radio telescope of the Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and followed up their discovery with the Lovell radio telescope, based at Jodrell Bank Observatory in Cheshire, and one of the Keck telescopes in Hawaii.
Pulsars are small spinning stars about 20 km in diameter – the size of a small city – that emit a beam of radio waves. As the star spins and the radio beam sweeps repeatedly over Earth, radio telescopes detect a regular pattern of radio pulses....
But pulsar J1719-1438 and its companion are so close together that the companion can only be a very stripped-down white dwarf, one that has lost its outer layers and over 99.9 per cent of its original mass.
"This remnant is likely to be largely carbon and oxygen, because a star made of lighter elements like hydrogen and helium would be too big to fit the measured orbiting times," said Dr Michael Keith (CSIRO), one of the research team members.
The density means that this material is certain to be crystalline: that is, a large part of the star may be similar to a diamond.