Get ready to grab your trusty pickaxes, new research led by Yale University indicates the planet last year assumed to have a similar chemical make-up to Earth is likely in fact a diamond planet; home to graphite, diamond and iron rather than water and granite. At least a third of the planet’s mass – the equivalent of three Earth masses – could be solely diamond, according to the study.
But while you might be thinking Planetary Resources are wasting their time in mining nearby asteroids for valuable minerals when they could hop aboard the nearest ship to the planet in question, called 55 Cancri e and seemingly home to untold riches, then think again. That's because the planet in question is located a none-too-reasonable distance of 40 light years from our own fair shores, and is as inhospitable as they come to boot, with an estimated temperature of about 3,900 degrees Fahrenheit. Orbiting at hyper speed – and with a year lasting just 18 hours, compared to our own 365 days – the planet has a radius twice Earth’s and a mass eight times greater, which might account for the fact it’s visible to the naked eye in the constellation of Cancer. Too bad.
The planet was first observed last year, where astronomers were able to measure its radius and estimate its mass. The researchers then proceeded to take a stab at the planet’s composition in “using models of its interior and by computing all possible combinations of elements and compounds that would yield those specific characteristics.”