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Earth-sized 'Diamond' Discovered in Space
Jul 18, 2014

Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized diamond about 900 light-years away in space, which is possibly the coldest, faintest white dwarf star ever detected. This ancient stellar remnant is so cool that its carbon has crystallised, forming—in effect—an Earth-size diamond in space. The object is likely the same age as the Milky Way, approximately 11 billion years old.

A team of researchers headed by a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee said, “It’s a really remarkable object. These things should be out there, but because they are so dim they are very hard to find. This stellar gem is found using the National Radio Astronomy Observatory’s (NRAO) Green Bank Telescope (GBT) and Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA), as well as other observatories.

White dwarfs are extremely dense end-states of stars like our Sun that have collapsed to form an object approximately the size of Earth. Composed mostly of carbon and oxygen, white dwarfs slowly cool and fade over billions of years.

Pulsars are rapidly spinning neutron stars, the super-dense remains of massive stars that have exploded as supernovas. As neutron stars spin, lighthouse-like beams of radio waves, streaming from the poles of its powerful magnetic field, sweep through space. When one of these beams sweeps across Earth, radio telescopes can capture the pulse of radio waves. The pulsar companion to this white dwarf, dubbed PSR J2222-0137, was the first object in this system to be detected.

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