The wonders of the solar system never cease to amaze. If NASA scientists are correct, it appears as though a planet made of diamond exists. Though the science community has slightly backtracked on this claim in recent years, there is still reason to believe a planet consisting of diamond exists. Even if we do not reach this planet with our spacecrafts at some point in the future, the fact that we even know of its existence is quite the remarkable scientific achievement.
55 Cancri e: The Planet of Diamonds
The “diamond planet” is officially named 55 Cancri e. This is a blazing hot planet with a surface primarily comprised of graphite that wraps around what appears to be an incredibly thick layer of diamonds. If our scientists are correct, another layer of silicon minerals lies below the diamond layer. There is likely a molten iron core positioned within the planet’s center below the layer of silicon minerals. This alien planet, discovered back in 2004, is sometimes referred to as a Super Earth.
55 Cancri e was found positioned by a star within the Milky Way galaxy. NASA scientists reached the conclusion that the planet was made of diamond after an in-depth estimation of the planet’s radius, mass and host star composition. It was determined the planet was primarily comprised of carbon, likely in the form of the forementioned diamond, along with graphite.
Furthermore, our leading scientists insist the planet also contains silicates, silicon carbide and some iron. However, it appears as though at least one-third of the mass of 55 Cancri e is comprised of pure diamond. It is particularly notable that the planet’s surface is likely laden with diamond and graphite as opposed to our planet’s surface which mainly has water.
The First Diamond Planet?
Though our scientific community cannot say for sure, it appears as though 55 Cancri e is the first-ever diamond planet we have identified orbiting a star similar to the sun. Though scientists and science fiction writers have theorized about the existence of such diamond planets in the past, it has been solely theory as opposed to fact up until now.
The presence of an abundance of carbon on 55 Cancri e is likely the cause of its abundance of diamonds. In comparison, our water-laden planet has comparably little carbon, hence our lack of diamonds. Earth has plenty of oxygen, making our “pale blue dot” as Carl Sagan infamously dubbed our interstellar living space, suitable for human life as opposed to shiny rocks.
Additional Details About the Diamond Planet
The radius of 55 Cancri e is two times that of planet Earth. Furthermore, 55 Cancri e has eight times as much mass as our planet. That’s a whole lot of diamonds to say the least. 55 Cancri e zooms around its host star, completing an entire orbit in as little as 18 hours. In contrast, Earth requires a whopping 365 days to complete an orbit around our sun.
It is also particularly interesting to note 55 Cancri e is so close to the star it orbits that the planet’s surface temperature is nearly 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit. This means the diamond planet is unsuitable for human life. As a result, a human being will never step foot on 55 Cancri e. If we make it to the diamond planet, it will likely be with a rover capable of withstanding excessive heat. It is quite possible future humans will design such a machine to transport diamond back to Earth and make a bundle of money. However, such a haul would require technology that we do not currently have. For the moment, we will have to be content with appreciating 55 Cancri e from afar.