Diamond Planet Discovered in Milky Way

How many paychecks would a man have to devote to putting a planet-size ring on his fiancée’s finger?

After recently discovering a diamond planet, scientists may be able to give us a definitive answer.

A team of astronomers discovered a planet 4,000 light years away in the constellation Serpens, whose high pressure has likely caused the carbon within it to crystallize into diamond.

“It’s hard to estimate how much a planet-sized diamond would be worth; I’m guessing several million, if not billion, dollars,” Liz Edmunds, social media director for Raymond Lee Jewelers in Boca Raton, Fla., tells JCK. “If Raymond Lee Jewelers got a hold of a diamond that size, we’d probably display it in our showroom. We hear there’s a big market in space-diamond exhibits.”

Diamond dealers worried about what the find could mean for rising diamond prices can rest easy.

“I say sell!” says Matthew Bailes, pro vice-chancellor of research at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia, who led the team of astronomers who made the discovery. “Just joking, the distance to the planet is so enormous it poses no threat to the futures market.”

The planet, known as PSR J1719-1438, is five times the size of Earth, and rotates around a flashing star known as a very fast-spinning pulsar—what’s called a millisecond pulsar (for those of you who don’t have a degree in astrophysics, a pulsar is a neutron star that emits beams of radiation that sweep through Earth’s line of sight). The team believes that the planet is all that remains of a once-massive star, most of whose matter was siphoned off by the pulsar. The pulsar and its planet are part of the Milky Way’s plane of stars. A year on the planet lasts just two hours and 10 minutes.

“Diamond is in many places out there because it is so abundant in the universe,” veteran Gemological Institute of America researcher Jim Shigley tells JCK. “Carbon is also the fourth most common element in the universe, so if you had the right temperature and the right pressure somewhere, a diamond could be the result.” Shigley did some quick calculations to figure out that the planet would be one times ten to the 29th power cts.

The diamond planet has generated interest on Twitter from people inside and outside the industry. One tweet JCK discovered, from Jonathan Eliasof, head of Pattern Traders, provides new insight into the relationship between men and women: