For the Martians
found by telescope.
The researchers say their discovery supports the idea there may be carbon-rich, rocky planets whose terrains are made up of diamonds or graphite. “You might see land masses and mountains made up of diamonds,” the lead researcher Dr Nikku Madhusudhan told BBC News.
The study in Nature journal raises new questions about how planets are formed. The work has been described as an astonishing astronomical tour de force. They have detected the thermal radiation (heat) from a planet 1,200 light years away using Nasa’s Spitzer Space Telescope.
“The planet is thousands of times fainter than the star it orbits. So the scientists have to perform an amazing feat of precision measurement to extract anything at all. The fact that they are able to tell us something about the composition of this particular planet is quite literally out of this world.”
This new planet, Wasp 12b, is the first to have more carbon than oxygen. It is a so-called gas giant, like Jupiter, and is mostly made from hydrogen gas.
But the planet’s core could be composed of some form of diamond, graphite and other carbon compounds, possibly in liquid form. This discovery suggests there may well be many Earth-sized planets in our galaxy that are ultra-rich in carbon.
“It’s my strong belief that a fair fraction of the exoplanets we have discovered could be carbon-rich and it’s a very interesting thought that on such rocky planets, sand could be a rare commodity and diamonds would be plentiful. The more important question is how such planets could form.”
Whoa, a planet with a terrain of only diamonds or graphite?