A team headed by Matthew Bailes of Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia made a sparkling discovery in 2009. They discovered a planet, PSR J1719-1438 b, circling a star about 3900 lightyears away. This planet, after careful analysis, appears to be very dense carbon and oxygen. Those with a metallurgical background may recognized that as the building blocks of diamonds.
How did a planet get made from diamonds? Scientists believe that this planet used to be part of a binary star, and that it’s big brother went supernova. The big brother then turned into pulsar and Planet deBeers was a red giant that fizzled out to a white dwarf. Its orbit is extremely close (with an orbital period of about 2 hours) to the pulsar and the extreme conditions of that orbit and its proximity to the larger body burned out the white dwarf and heated and compressed it to a point where it is believed to be almost pure diamond.
That’s all cool, but it leaves the question: is this where Superman came from?
[Image Credit: USGS]