Diamonds, or rather diamond planets, are an astronomer's best friend. A once-massive star that's turned into a small planet made of diamond is what astronomers think they've found in the Milky Way.
The discovery of a dense planet circling pulsar PSR J1719-1438, has been made by an international research team, led by Professor Matthew Bailes of Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia, and is reported in the US journal Science.
"This high density of the planet provides a clue to its origin", said Professor Bailes. The astronomers believe that the density means that this material is certain to be crystalline, and may be similar to a diamond.
"This is the largest and most sensitive survey of this type ever conducted. We expected to find exciting things, and it is great to see it happening. There is more to come!" said Professor Michael Kramer, Director at the MPIfR.
The team found the pulsar and its planet amongs almost 200,000 Gigabytes of data, that's much more than your average iTunes folder. They didn't have to pore through it by hand, however. Supercomputers at Swinburne University of Technology in Australia, The University of Manchester in the UK, and the INAF-Osservatorio Astronomico di Cagliari, Italy did the searching.
The discovery was made during a systematic search for pulsars over the whole sky that also involves the 100 metre Effelsberg radio telescope of the Max-Planck-Institute for Radioastronomy (MPIfR) in Germany.
No word yet on whether the planet can be mined for galactic engagement rings.