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Space Science

The Galaxy's Largest Diamond 364

Posted by michael
from the you-pay-shipping dept.
unassimilatible writes "The Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics reports 'to impress your favorite lady this Valentine's Day, get her the galaxy's largest diamond.' A newly discovered cosmic diamond is a chunk of crystallized carbon 50 light-years from the Earth in the constellation Centaurus. It is 2,500 miles across and weighs 5 million trillion trillion pounds, which translates to approximately 10 billion trillion trillion carats, or a one followed by 34 zeros. A cheesy, unrealistic simulation is also available. AP has a story as well."
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The Galaxy's Largest Diamond

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  • closer (Score:3, Interesting)

    by kyshtock (608605) on Saturday February 14, 2004 @04:03AM (#8278239)
    Wasn't there a theory that the core of Jupiter was diamond?

  • Formation (Score:4, Interesting)

    by whereiswaldo (459052) on Saturday February 14, 2004 @04:12AM (#8278290) Journal

    Did this diamond form based on the same principles as diamonds here on Earth? I thought coal had to be very highly compressed for ages before it became a diamond. Not so?
  • valuables in space (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jjeffries (17675) on Saturday February 14, 2004 @04:18AM (#8278313)
    I wonder if these kinds of discoveries could get otherwise uninterested parties into the space biz. Plenty of scenerios have us mining the moon for oxygen, fuel, etc, in order to survive up there, but what about other minerals/precious stones? If a huge chunk of [gold|platinium|unobtainium] were found on the moon, would it be cost effective to mine it and send it back to earth?

    I'm sure there will be other such finds. This huge diamond probably doesn't even scratch the surface. (ha!)
  • by silentbozo (542534) on Saturday February 14, 2004 @04:52AM (#8278413) Journal
    Gold and diamonds have industrial uses as conductors and abrasives. While having a large amount of either would depress the commodity markets (and send many speculators to the depths of dispair) it would bolster the industries that utilize these items for manufacturing.

    Imagine if gold were cheaper than lead - we could market environmentally friendly "lead-free" ammunition. If we had access to diamond sheets large enough, perhaps we could construct windows out of it. Instead of copper wiring, we'd have gold wiring instead. Circuit boards would be plated with gold, and maybe we'd see the return of $20 gold coins that are actually worth $20.

    What would REALLY be valuable would be catalytic elements like platinum or palladium. Bring back enough of those and whole new industries could be built around them...
  • Re:Um...not quite (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ktanmay (710168) on Saturday February 14, 2004 @05:00AM (#8278439)
    Yes, and add to that all the density and intense gravitational pull and we would probably do better here on earth to synthesize diamonds.
    50 light years is pretty close, wonder if the early reptiles may have witnessed the nova explosion, in fact it would be interesting to find out if it had any effect on life here on earth.
  • Re:closer (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Genda (560240) <mariet@nOSpAM.got.net> on Saturday February 14, 2004 @05:10AM (#8278464) Journal
    Uh no... no diamond at the core of Jupiter... there is still some question about rocky, heavy metal, or metalic hydrogen at the core...

    In any of those cases, the state of matter at jupiter's core would be pretty exotic stuff, even a diamond at those temperatures and pressures would flow like water...

    And no, jupiter was never large enough to have sustained fusion, though it does emit a whole lotta heat and readio waves.

    Genda Bendte
  • by songbo (614466) on Saturday February 14, 2004 @05:31AM (#8278517) Journal
    Reminds me of a nursery rhyme we used to sing in school.

    Twinkle twinkle little star

    How I wonder what you are

    Up above the world so high

    Like a diamond in the sky

    Twinkle twinkle little star

    How I wonder what you are

  • Re:Um...not quite (Score:5, Interesting)

    by eclectro (227083) on Saturday February 14, 2004 @06:12AM (#8278613)
    until the white dwarf cools off that is. Then it becomes a crystalline diamond core surrounded by rock.

    It takes about ten billion years for a white dwarf (average) to cool off to the point of not being visible. The age of the universe is about 13-14 billion years old.

    However, do not plan on going to the white dwarf to go diamond mining, as it is still quite hot, and it's gravity would squish you flat.

    But eventually they will become dark cold diamond cinders.

    But one interesting thing is that white dwarfs can accumulate material from companion stars over time. When this white dwarf obtains 1.4 solar mass it reaches the Chandrasekhar limit, and a type 1a supernova explosion occurs. You don't want to be around.

    If you were thinking of collecting boken diamonds from the aftermath, think again.

    Diamond undergoes catastrophic allotropic conversion conversion to graphite at 1800 C. This is exceeded a few million times in a supernova producing carbon ions.

    So, the conclusion I draw from this -- the carbon in our bodies could have come from diamonds, having originated from a white dwarf that crystallized and later became a type 1a supernova

    Correct me if I'm wrong, physicists.
  • space diamonds? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by axxackall (579006) on Saturday February 14, 2004 @06:35AM (#8278657) Homepage Journal
    If it exists in the Universe as a whole, it can exist also in pieces. There could be many reasons why another big diamond would be broken into millions of smaller (but still huge) pieces.

    We know (we think we know) that there is a lot of dark matter between star ssystems and between galaxies. No need to go that far - there is a belt of cold rocks outside of Pluto. Who knows, maybe some of those rocks are broken pieces of one of such diamond star.

    Now, it's a matter of time that they will discover of proof of such diamond rocks there and begin hunting for them. Can it stimulate investors to space industry?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 14, 2004 @08:09AM (#8278886)
    If we had access to diamond sheets large enough, perhaps we could construct windows out of it.

    Diamond has the highest thermal conductivity of any solid known to man. Not what I'd want to make windows out of (though double panes would probably still insulate resonably well). It also shatters easily - its hardness would prevent scratches, however.

    It has the highest refraction index, so I guess you could make some fine optical instruments with diamond lenses. The fact that it's next to impossible to scratch wouldn't hurt either - diamond glasses, anyone?
  • by MinutiaeMan (681498) on Saturday February 14, 2004 @11:47AM (#8279686) Homepage
    That's true, the majority of its mass is hydrogen. But you're forgetting just how friggin' massive Jupiter is. Even if only a tiny tiny fraction of a percent were a diamond, it'd still be huge!

    Part of Clarke's explanation for this theory (in "2061", actually) explained that Jupiter's high gravity would cause the more massive molecules -- like methane, which Jupiter definitely has in quantity -- would sink through the atmosphere towards the core. And at the core, the intense pressures would separate the carbon from the hydrogen (in the methane), and the hydrogen would waft back up (being of lesser mass), while the carbon would stay in the core.

    Think of it as being like a black hole, except without the extreme singularity -- instead of being compressed to a single point, it's being compressed into a diamond. (But it's not just the gravity doing this, it's also the intense atmospheric pressure of all the gasses sitting above the core, too.)
  • by shawnce (146129) on Saturday February 14, 2004 @11:50AM (#8279706) Homepage
    In the book 2061 [2think.org] it talks about humans capturing a huge shard of the diamond core that was ejected after jupiter was ignited at the end of the 2010 book. We (humans) use this shard to cover earth structures with diamond coverings and a build huge ring around the earth from it for use as a space platform if I recall correctly (read the book 10+ years ago).

    ...or I could all be f'd up...
  • by gotr00t (563828) on Saturday February 14, 2004 @01:06PM (#8280152) Journal
    However, don't forget that despite the fact that most of the world is off the gold standard, gold is still used to stabilize the currency. Out of all the things that money could be backed by, a precious mineral like gold is the most stable because the amount in the world is fixed.

    If you introduce so much gold into the world that its as abundant as lead, then there would need to be a new rare mineral to back currency. If this was to happen, every currency would be worthless, and so would gold. It would be just like the massive inflation Germany suffered in the 1920's... imagine pushing cartloads of gold to buy one loaf of bread.

  • Re:ppfffttt (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Jerf (17166) on Saturday February 14, 2004 @02:44PM (#8280753) Journal
    Have we ever compressed any matter on earth at all to a density of 1 million grams per cc?

    Probably. When a supercolliders collide two gold nuclei, the density gets pretty damned high, but unfortunately I can't seem to Google any solid numbers up. I'd strongly suspect that the density gets into that range.

    Of course your point stands, in that we have never taken macroscopic quantities of matter up to that density, and what matter we have taken to that density doesn't stay there long at all.

    Just an informational posting; I agree with the parent in general.

    (Another interesting note; dividing the volume by mass gives average density. The density will be much less at the surface and much greater in the middle (IIRC it's typically an exponential curve). So the maximum density is even greater then the BOTE calculation would indicate.)
  • by DJ Rubbie (621940) on Saturday February 14, 2004 @04:15PM (#8281333) Homepage Journal
    Actually, it is theorized that Neptune actually have methane that gets compressed into diamonds near its core. With the newly compress diamonds being heavier than its surrounding, it actually falls towards the core, and gets heat up much like a meteror. Since this is a planet-wide (or planet core-wide) process, a significant amount of heat will be produced this way. (Neptune radiates 2.5 times more heat it receives from the sun, IIRC)

    Read more:
    http://www.spacedaily.com/news/carbon-99d.h tml

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