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17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
Vol. 344 ,
Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
Using the two high-quality genomes that exist for Neandertals and Denisovans, researchers find clues to gene activity...
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
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ScienceShot: Diamond Planet Orbits a Pulsar
25 August 2011 2:00 pm
Astronomers have discovered the densest extrasolar planet yet: A Jupiter-mass remnant of a carbon- and oxygen-rich star that measures no more than 55,000 kilometers across. The odd world, whose density is on average at least 23 grams per cubic centimeter (or about twice that of lead), is probably crystalline and possibly largely composed of ultradense diamond. The planet orbits its parent sun—a pulsar, or a rapidly-spinning neutron star that emits an intense beam of radio waves, dubbed PSR J1719-1438—once every 2 hours and 10 minutes, the researchers report online today in Science. The planet’s orbit measures about 600,000 kilometers across, only 50% more than the average distance from Earth to the moon. How such a dense planet formed is unclear, the researchers say, but it’s probably the crystalline vestige of a white dwarf star whose atmosphere was stripped away by the parent pulsar. Most of the pulsars that spin faster than once per 20 milliseconds are part of a binary star system, but about 30% have no companions whatsoever, the scientists note. Only one other rapidly-spinning pulsar is known to be orbited by Earth-mass planets—a sign that exotic planets such as this megadiamond are, like their Earthly counterparts, rare indeed.
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