The Diamond Planet

Researchers estimate there are 2 trillion to 3 trillion planets in our universe, each a unique world. When a planet forms, it takes on a set of characteristics based on the materials that make up the planet, and as a planet lives out its life, its unique conditions evolve. These processes create interesting and foreign worlds that are much different than our own.

55 Cancri e is the name of an exoplanet that could be made of diamond. This strange planet was first discovered in 2011 as it crossed in front of its parent star. 55 Cancri e is a rocky planet that is twice the size of Earth but eights times the mass. Due to 55 Cancri e’s close orbit to its star, an orbit that takes only 18 hours to complete, the planet is a sweltering 3,900 degrees Fahrenheit. While these hot conditions make life on the planet highly unlikely, they are the perfect conditions for diamond to form.

The Spitzer Space Telescope was utilized by NASA scientists to study the planet and collect data. This data was then used to create computer models of the planet’s chemical makeup, and what researchers discovered was quite surprising.

55 Cancri e’s parent star is rich in carbon. This fact makes it highly likely that the other planets in its solar system are extremely carbon-rich, a trait that the planets gained when they formed from the primordial soup in the area, a soup that was also rich in carbon.

Researchers now believe that if 55 Cancri e is made of carbon, then it’s possible the carbon presents itself as diamond on the planet, due to the planet’s staggeringly high temperatures. If these facts are correct, then 55 Cancri e represents an entirely new class of planet.