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Space Science

Astronomers Discover Earth-Sized Diamond 112

Posted by samzenpus
from the we're-going-to-need-a-bigger-setting dept.
ygslash (893445) writes Astronomers at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory announced that they have discovered what appears to be the coolest white dwarf ever detected. The white dwarf is formerly a star similar to our own sun which, after expending all of its fuel, has cooled to less than a chilly 3000 degrees Kelvin and contracted to a size approximately the same as Earth. A white dwarf is composed mostly of carbon and oxygen, and the astronomers believe that at that temperature it would be mostly crystallized, forming something like a huge diamond.
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Astronomers Discover Earth-Sized Diamond

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @07:09PM (#47319761)

    Lucy is here. I repeat, Lucy is here.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I discovered an upside down diamond in your moms pants. It wasn't Earth sized but your mom sure was! She made me look like a white dwarf!

  • DeBeers (Score:4, Funny)

    by Ol Olsoc (1175323) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @07:10PM (#47319787)
    Is really pissed
  • by JoshuaZ (1134087) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @07:12PM (#47319799) Homepage
    Considering that the high price of diamonds is a combination of the De Beers monopoly together with their massive PR campaigns to a) make people use diamonds as formal symbols of affection and b) to make people unwilling to sell them second-hand once they've been owned, they should be worried. On the other hand, this is 900 light years away, so maybe they'll just lobby against any research into FTL travel.
  • by uCallHimDrJ0NES (2546640) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @07:13PM (#47319807)

    Scintillate, Scintillate, Diminutive Stellar Orb,

    How inexplicable to me it seems the stupendous problem of your existence.

    Elevated at such an immeasurable distance in an apparently perpendicular direction from this terrestrial planet which we occupy,

    Resembling in thy dazzling and unapproachable effulgence, a gem of purest carbon set solitaire in a university of space.

  • Units (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @07:22PM (#47319859)

    3000 degrees Kelvin

    Isn't it supposed to just be "3000 Kelvin"?

    • by geekoid (135745)

      Nope.
      It's suppose to be 3000 degrees from Kevin

  • From the article:

    Kaplan and his colleagues found this stellar gem using the National Radio Astronomy Observatoryâ(TM)s (NRAO) Green Bank Telescope (GBT) and Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA), as well as other observatories.

    From wikipedia [wikipedia.org]:

    The National Science Foundation (NSF) Astronomy Portfolio Review committee chaired by Daniel Eisenstein of Harvard University recommended in August 2012 that the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope should be defunded over a five year period.[9] Further information on this divestiture can be found on the AUI webpage and at www.savethegbt.org.

    In the fiscal year 2014 budget, the US Congress did not recommend divesting the Green Bank Telescope. The Telescope is looking for partners to help fund its $10 million annual operating costs.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    How do they go from crystalized carbonmonoxide to a diamond? The diamond crystal lattice is exceptionally strong and only atoms of nitrogen, boron and hydrogen can be introduced into diamond during the growth at significant concentrations (up to atomic percents).
    If it's "mostly" oxygen and carbon it's not a diamond. That's simple chemistry.

    • So it is ... dry ice?

    • by ddt (14627)
      If it's been gradually cooling for billions of years, I imagine that might create annealing-like conditions where the oxygen and carbon separate with the heavier solid oxygen at the core and a diamond lattice outside. So maybe it's diamond shell with a refreshing solid oxygen center?
      • by Required Snark (1702878) on Thursday June 26, 2014 @04:14AM (#47322505)
        Warning: ACTUAL PHYSICS, not typical Slashdot half-assed speculation.

        This class of white dwarf stars are a mixture of primarily oxygen and carbon. Depending on the mass the amount of carbon and oxygen are roughly the same, but sometimes there is more oxygen. As the star cools it goes through a phase transition where the core becomes crystallized. This releases heat through two mechanisms: heat of crystallization and the release of gravothermal energy.

        The inner crystallized section is enhanced in oxygen. The outer fluid mantel is enriched in carbon. Calling this a diamond is simply wrong. Perhaps at some point in the distant future one of these will cool and part of it will become a form of crystal carbon, but considering that the cooling time without mantle carbon crystallization is on the order of 10 Gigayears, it is not likely this has happened yet considering that the universe is around 13.6 gigayears old.

        http://iopscience.iop.org/0004-637X/486/1/413/fulltext/34903.text.html [iop.org]

        The Cooling of CO White Dwarfs: Influence of the Internal Chemical Distribution

        White dwarfs are the remnants of stars of low and intermediate masses on the main sequence. Since they have exhausted all of their nuclear fuel, their evolution is just a gravothermal process. The release of energy only depends on the detailed internal structure and chemical composition and on the properties of the envelope equation of state and opacity; its consequences on the cooling curve (i.e., the luminosity vs. time relationship) depend on the luminosity at which this energy is released.

        The internal chemical profile depends on the rate of the 12C(, )16O reaction as well as on the treatment of convection. High reaction rates produce white dwarfs with oxygen-rich cores surrounded by carbon-rich mantles. This reduces the available gravothermal energy and decreases the lifetime of white dwarfs.

        In this paper we compute detailed evolutionary models providing chemical profiles for white dwarfs having progenitors in the mass range from 1.0 to 7 M, and we examine the influence of such profiles in the cooling process. The influence of the process of separation of carbon and oxygen during crystallization is decreased as a consequence of the initial stratification, but it is still important and cannot be neglected. As an example, the best fit to the luminosity functions of Liebert et al. and Oswalt et al. gives an age of the disk of 9.3 and 11.0 Gyr, respectively, when this effect is taken into account, and only 8.3 and 10.0 Gyr when it is neglected.

        • by ygslash (893445)

          Warning: ACTUAL PHYSICS, not typical Slashdot half-assed speculation...

          Calling this a diamond is simply wrong. Perhaps at some point in the distant future one of these will cool and part of it will become a form of crystal carbon, but considering that the cooling time without mantle carbon crystallization is on the order of 10 Gigayears, it is not likely this has happened yet considering that the universe is around 13.6 gigayears old...

          OP here. Not claiming to know much about this; I just pointed out the NRAO announcement. But I assume that NRAO does have people that know something about the physics here.

          They are not saying that the white dwarf is 3000 K - they would have detected it directly then. They are saying that it must be cooler than that, perhaps much cooler. Thus, they are speculating that this is an extremely old object, and that it may indeed have cooled enough to reach temperatures at which there would be carbon crystallizati

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Diamonds are almost entirely carbon, where as this has a significant portion of oxygen in it, so this wouldn't actually form a diamond structure. This sort of headline bait is rather annoying.

    • by arth1 (260657)

      True. This would be amorphous carbonia, which is basically a crystalline form of carbon dioxide under high pressure. It's no more diamond than what you exhale.

    • Diamonds are almost entirely carbon, where as this has a significant portion of oxygen in it, so this wouldn't actually form a diamond structure. This sort of headline bait is rather annoying.

      So... diamondillium or diamondium?

  • from the Sega CD version of Dungeon Explorer .(There's an obscure reference.)
    • by DudemanX (44606)

      Great game. Probably still my favorite Gauntlet clone. It was for TurboGraphix16 though and not any Sega system.

      Dungeon Explorer is on Wii Virtual Console.

  • by Snotnose (212196) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @07:45PM (#47320035)
    Lemme call a buddy of mine to see what he can tell me about this.
  • by vanyel (28049)

    I wonder how many carats that is...

  • Is it just one diamond, or a pile of diamonds? If a pile, how [ir]regular?

    I mean, in theory. I know we haven't been there.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Why buy her a diamond?

    • Why buy her a diamond?

      There are only 2 reasons to buy diamonds - to cut hard stuff and to make a crazy laser weapon.

      • Or, to convince the kind of person stupid enough to think a diamond is important to enter a relationship with you.

  • Hoper Kanye doesn't see this.
  • Sure, maybe by stellar object standards, that's quite cool.

    But an object that's rocking out at nearly 5000F isn't something I'd classify as "chilly".

  • De Beers to launch deep space rocket. Estimated cost? Two months salary.
  • Boeing Jet, in return. I always wanted one of those.

  • Assuming some day in the distant future humans could reach deep into space, could a really big diamond serve any functional purpose?
  • How much of a gravitational pull would there be on this object? Could you approach it closely or would that be a bad idea?

    • by meglon (1001833)
      It's a white dwarf.

      and the companion a mass 1.05 times that of the Sun.

      It's gravitational pull, not including the pulsar's, would be almost the same as our suns.

      • by amaurea (2900163)

        But since its much smaller, the surface gravity would be much greater (you can go deeper into its gravitational well before you reach its surface). The sun has a surface acceleration of 275 m/s^2, or about 28 g. This white dwarf would have a surface acceleration of 3.33 Mm/s^2, or 3.3e5 g, more than ten thousand times higher. Attempt no landings there.

  • May the Quartz be with you. Really It has to be one of the most common minerals on earth. It just looks like a diamond.
  • After all all big diamonds have curses on them!

  • Ahh, taking a big space truck with a bunch of strangers across a diamond planet called Midnight? What could possibly go wrong?
  • by idanity (591710)
    i call dibs

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