It seems that we've been living on the wrong planet this whole time.
Researchers from Yale University in the United States and the Institute of Astrophysics and Planetology Research in France have identified what appears to be a diamond planet orbiting a nearby star.
"This is our first glimpse of a rocky world with a fundamentally different chemistry from Earth," said lead researcher Nikku Madhusudhan, a Yale postdoctoral researcher in physics and astronomy, in a statement. "The surface of this planet is likely covered in graphite and diamond rather than water and granite."
The planet has the catchy moniker 55 Cancri e. With a radius that is double that of Earth's and a mass eight times greater than Earth's comparatively light size; it is being billed as a "Super Earth." It is one of five planets orbiting a star that is located 40 light-years away, and can be viewed by the naked eye in the constellation of Cancer.
The planet was first spotted orbiting a star last year. Recent estimations of its mass allowed Madhusudhan and Oliver Mousis to infer its composition based on the chemical mixtures that would provide it with those characteristics.
The host star has more carbon than oxygen, and Madhusudhan and Mousis say that substantial amounts of carbon and silicon carbide, and small amounts of water ice were available during the planet's formation. Currently, though, the planet seems to be made primarily of carbon, in the form of graphite and diamond; iron; silicon carbide; and some silicates. The researchers say that as much as a third of the planet's mass - or as much as two Earths - could be composed of diamond.
But don't plan a move just yet - there does not appear to be water on its surface and is blazingly hot at 3,900 degrees Fahrenheit, far too hot to support human life. In addition, its year lasts only 18 days.
Researchers had previously assumed that planets with rocky surfaces like that of Earth had similar chemical compositions, atmosphere and biology as Earth. But this recent research proves that hypothesis is not the case.
The paper will be published in the journal Astrophysical Journal Letters.
Published by Medicaldaily.com