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A diamond planet found spinning in space

The planet orbits the pulsar at a distance of approximately 600,000 km, which is 1.5 times the distance of the moon from Earth.

An international team of researchers have discovered a planet in a remote corner of our universe that is believed to be formed entirely of diamond.

The international team, consisting of scientists of the University of Manchester and Swinburne University of Technology in Australia, found the so-called "diamond planet" while studying an unusual spinning star which lies 4,000 light years from Earth in the Milky Way galaxy.

How astronomers detected diamond planet?
The rare star known as a pulsar was detected in 2009, using the Parkes radio telescope of the Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).

A month later, follow-up observations revealed consistent interruptions in the pulsar's signals, indicating the existence of a companion around the pulsar.

Further analysis of variations in the pulsar's signals later confirmed that that object was a smaller diamond-like planet orbiting the pulsar PSR J1719-1438.

The pulsar’s planetary companion measures up to 60,000 km across, about five times bigger that of Earth’s, and its mass is slightly more than Jupiter's.

Diamond planet specifications
The researchers led by Professor Matthew Bailes, of Swinburne University of Technology in Australia, believe it is the remnant of huge star which transferred its energy to the pulsar when it exploded.

The pulsars are small stars with about a diameter of just 20km.

The pulsar’s planetary companion measures up to 60,000 km across, about five times bigger that of Earth’s, and its mass is slightly more than Jupiter's.

It is the densest ever found in the galaxy, but the astronomers found that it is instead made largely of carbon and oxygen, similar to diamond.

"The remnant is likely to be largely carbon and oxygen, because a star made of lighter elements like hydrogen and helium would be too big to fit the measured orbiting times," the NEWS.com quoted CSIRO's Dr Michael Keith, a member of the research team, as saying.

The planet orbits the pulsar at a distance of approximately 600,000 km, which is 1.5 times the distance of the moon from Earth.

Bailes and colleagues reported the diamond planet discovery Thursday in the journal 'Science.'