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Space Science

Astronomers Find Diamond Star 4,000 km Wide 197

tclas writes "The cosmic diamond is a chunk of crystallized carbon, 4,000 km across, some 50 light-years from the Earth in the constellation Centaurus. It's the compressed heart of an old star that was once bright like our Sun but has since faded and shrunk. Astronomers have decided to call the star 'Lucy,' after the Beatles song 'Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.'"
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Astronomers Find Diamond Star 4,000 km Wide

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  • Finally (Score:4, Funny)

    by Yvan256 ( 722131 ) on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @10:26AM (#33573632) Homepage Journal

    De Beers will be funding NASA from now on!

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Jeremy Erwin ( 2054 )

      On the contrary. I think this will blow the de Beers cartel wide open, assuming that a FTL mining vessel could be equipped.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @10:43AM (#33573896)

        Gone senile? Got amnesia, you old douche?

        • FIFTY-SIX (Score:5, Funny)

          by Oxford_Comma_Lover ( 1679530 ) on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @11:38AM (#33574818)

          But the story is not six years old. The diamond is fifty light years away.

          "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" is from 1967. The light they saw six years ago was from about 1954.

          It pre-dates Lucy by about 13 years.

          • by jd ( 1658 )

            The star probably crystallized a good deal earlier, though. Even the light was a dupe.

          • Re:FIFTY-SIX (Score:5, Insightful)

            by numbski ( 515011 ) <(numbski) (at) (hksilver.net)> on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @12:11PM (#33575416) Homepage Journal

            We're splitting hairs. With the exception of the Sun, moon, and some VERY near planet/stars, every time we look up at the sky, we're looking a looooong way back into the past. Just about everything you see in the sky "happened" a long time ago. Part of the reason that SETI isn't likely to succeed. Not that it isn't a valiant effort, but anything we would "hear" would be from so long ago that the civilization we're hearing may not even exist anymore, and inversely, anyone that might "hear" our RF transmissions will not have heard them yet, and won't for a good time to come still, and when they do, they're going to "hear" Howdy Doody. Our society has evolved and advanced quit a bit since that point, and if they were to reply with similar tech hoping to communicate, we won't be receiving that transmission for quite some time past *that*.

            In short, our entire existence is so transient that, although it is great hubris to think we're alone, the end result is the same. We probably *are not* alone, but we'll very likely never meet any "others".

            This whole discussion always sets me back into depression, realizing how short and pointless our own existence is. We scramble around, trying to be the best amongst our own, and sadly the whole thing is no different that a bunch of ants scurrying around in a pile. The only difference is scale. We arrive, we're lucky to be here more than 60 years or so, and then we're gone. We don't get to keep any of it, we don't get anything. We exist to not exist anymore. The concept of life is really sad - you become cognizant of "self" only to realize that it is so temporary that well - anyway. Religion (in my case, Christianity) winds up speaking to this by saying in essence "you don't have to die". I struggle because believing that is to say that all of what I see above my head that happened so long ago - the one that made all of *that* somehow, someway, some*why*, inserted themselves into our existence to teach us some 2000 years ago (still, long after what we see above our heads happened), then allowed the collective "us" of a very small group of humans to murder him, and then revived three days later to pay for things the collective "we" had done wrong, so that "we" would no longer have to sacrifice the lives of other things in order to live past death.

            My analytical brain just about bursts at the conflict. I can only envision God as a creator of either the "multiverse" (string theory), or just "our" universe/reality - which makes us more like rats in a cage, and even then, the compartmentalization of my psyche which wants to have faith and follow my upbringing and "believe and be saved" while all the while learning all that I can while I'm here so it can all just go away anyway.

            The "human condition" is a term that gets used when you're young, and then it hits you what precisely it is. Let's not split hairs over time. On the scale of time we're dealing with, you and I are a single "tick" on that clock.

            • Great post. As to the pointlessness, I find trying to be happy and trying to help other people be happy more than enough justification for me.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              I'd like to recommend "Star Maker" by Olaf Stapledon.

              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star_Maker [wikipedia.org]

            • by jbengt ( 874751 )
              I'm by no means fluent with relativity issues, but as I understand it, light we see now from an object 50 light years away did not happen a "looooong" time ago. The speed of light does not define a distant "past" for objects far away. Rather, the speed of light defines the limit of knowing whether "before" and "after" have any meaning at all between objects far apart or moving at greatly different velocities.
              • 50 light years is relatively close, cosmically speaking. It has taken 50 years from light from this diamond to reach us, thats pretty damn quick, the point of the GP is about intelligent life out there, they are likely hundreds of millions of light years away, if not more. The milky way galaxy alone (but a small drop in the bucket cosmically speaking) is 100,000 light years across, and distances only get astronomically greater from there, so yes light from this diamond is not from a "long time ago" but many

        • FTL travel does strange things to the timeline.

        • If diamonds are forever, so are stories about them...

          I'm now waiting for this star to transit Saturn so we can have stories about "Astronomers find giant diamond ring in space".

      • assuming that a FTL mining vessel could be equipped.

        That's a rather large assumption ;)

        Personally I'm more worried about the vessel's construction, than how well equipped it is.

      • De Beers's FTL ISBM will have taken care of it long before.
      • by Kalidor ( 94097 )

        Only if de Beers doesn't get mining rights. Else they will just store build a store house around it and keep diamonds at the artificial shortage we've come to view as the status quo.

      • by slick7 ( 1703596 )

        De Beers will be funding NASA from now on!

        On the contrary. I think this will blow the de Beers cartel wide open, assuming that a FTL mining vessel could be equipped.

        There's one way to find out.

        De Beers, [debeers.com] has it been registered? [starregistry.com]

    • Re:Finally (Score:5, Insightful)

      by AstroMatt ( 1594081 ) on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @10:33AM (#33573758)
      Except white dwarf interiors will also have lots of oxygen atoms, and the lattice structure (BCC) is different from that of diamonds (interpenetrating FCC). And if you remove the self gravity the white dwarf matter would no longer be crystallized. And this story dates from 2004 - breaking news! Definitely slashdot-worthy ...
      • Oh noes! if you remove the self gravity the diamond will collapse? What a ripoff. That's why diamonds that rely on the electromagnetic force are much better.

        Wait a second, how do you remove the self gravity of a 4000 km wide solid object of high density?

        • Unless you plan on bringing the whole star home (fun for everyone when it absorbs Earth), the force of gravity on the chip you bring back will be lessened significantly once it leaves the influence of the star.

    • by Just_Say_Duhhh ( 1318603 ) on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @10:53AM (#33574042)
      No, I don't think De Beers will be funding NASA. They may start blowing up any attempts to get into space. They might even want to take out the ISS (and as anyone who has seen Congo [imdb.com] can tell you, with De Beers' massive diamond-powered lasers, the ISS is a sitting duck!) You see, they already have enough (should I say more than enough) diamonds. They just have to stop everyone else from getting access to diamonds, which would cause the price to fall.
      • They just have to stop everyone else from getting access to diamonds, which would cause the price to fall.

        Or just stop buying diamonds...

        Screw up their supply by eliminating demand. Also, enforce July as a "no-sex" month so we don't have people being born in April.

        • Also, enforce July as a "no-sex" month so we don't have people being born in April.

          Shouldn't be a problem for most of the Slashdot crowd.

      • by bigpat ( 158134 )

        They might even want to take out the ISS (and as anyone who has seen Congo [imdb.com] can tell you

        You had me until "Congo". I think the list of anyone who has seen Congo is just pretty much you and I, my friend. And that list is one person too long.

    • Isn't LSD just a for of crystallized carbon? It's sounds like that's what they really found by the name.

  • Good news, if this doesn't get the commercial space-race going nothing will ;)

    • Diamonds are worthless

      • Untrue; their extreme hardness makes them useful for many industrial applications, and their excellent thermal conductivity is valuable in many others. It *is* true that the current prices of gem-quality diamond is horribly inflated by the DeBeers cartel.

        • ... it's important to note that we've long had the capability to manufacture industrial diamonds - in fact, something like five times as many industrial diamonds are manufactured as are mined [wikipedia.org]. So, yeah, not worthless, but only "precious" because their supply is so tightly controlled.

          • Not only that, but you can only tell apart natural from gem-quality synthetic diamonds by infrared spectroscopy. To the naked eye, they are completely indistinguishable. The only reason that mined ones sell for more is DeBeers marketing.
  • 4km or 4,000km wide? (Score:3, Informative)

    by maroberts ( 15852 ) on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @10:27AM (#33573640) Homepage Journal

    If its only 4km I'll let you have it.....

    P.S. This BBC story is from 2004 - slow news day, Slashdot?

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      P.S. This BBC story is from 2004 - slow news day, Slashdot?

      And slashdot covered it then too:
      http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=04/02/14/0123206 [slashdot.org]

      Kind of pathetic how often an ancient news story will work its way to the front page.

    • I think it is BBC site design fault and let us be forgiving to the submitter. I wrote to BBC in June 2010 for similar problem.

      See below:

      From: xxxx
      Sent: 04 June 2010 04:26
      To: NewsOnline Comments
      Subject: Feedback [NewsWatch]

      From: xxx
      Email address: xxx

      COMMENTS: Hello,

      Your section "Most popular stories now" with "Most Read" seems to be
      hijacked with old stories.

      For instance, stories appear as most read when they are actually
      very old.

      Woman jailed for testicle attack - 10 February 2005

      Once they appear on "

    • P.S. This BBC story is from 2004 - slow news day, Slashdot?

      It is probably getting pulled up as a similar item to the "largest chocolate bar" story, which is current.

  • Slow day, Slashdot? (Score:5, Informative)

    by AndyFewt ( 694753 ) on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @10:27AM (#33573656)
    BBC news article: Last Updated: Monday, 16 February 2004, 15:31 GMT
    Over 6 years old, slow day slashdot?
    • Whats worse is that I read this yesterday as it was trending on the bbc news site... and the fact that it was in an ancient layout for their site didn't cause me to spot the date either...

      • by Inda ( 580031 )
        You have to wonder who is bumping these stories up on the BBC? Only last month the story about Indians having small cocks, and condoms being too large, made the list for a week. I suspect 4channers...

        And what stupid DB must the BBC use if the old template still pops up?
        • by gtall ( 79522 )

          "Only last month the story about Indians having small cocks, and condoms being too large, made the list for a week." They seem to replay that story about every 6-8 months. I just figured the BBC just liked to tweaks the Indians out of boredom.

    • Ho. Lee. Crap.

      Bonus points: If you look at the "Artists Impression" picture, you'll see that it's a perfect sphere, with a perfect brilliant cut diamond in the centre! Who knew ET was a diamantaire.
    • Well the star's still there at least.

    • 2004 to 2010 is like the blink of an eye on a stellar timescale.

    • Look, the star is 50 light years away, so the fact that the news got here in just 6 years goes to show you have fast the news really is here on Slashdot. That is almost a full factor faster than light!

  • Great... (Score:5, Funny)

    by mseidl ( 828824 ) on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @10:27AM (#33573664) Homepage
    Something else I can't afford but my wife will nag me about...
  • They'd affectionately call it "Twinkle twinkle".
  • Garbage (Score:5, Funny)

    by __aaelyr464 ( 1410019 ) on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @10:31AM (#33573714)
    DeBeers has taught me that the only REAL diamond is from mined from the earth, possibly covered in blood.
  • 6 year old Dupe (Score:5, Informative)

    by SMoynihan ( 1647997 ) on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @10:33AM (#33573764)
    This is a story from 2004, though it keeps popping up in the "most read" list on BBC news. Also, it was reported [slashdot.org] on Slashdot 6 years ago.
  • theres quite a difference between 4KM (title) and 4000KM (article summary)

    Or are slashdot admins smoking da weed again?

    • Now concentrate this time, Dougal. These chunks of crystallised carbon are very small; those are far away...

  • by Jailbrekr ( 73837 ) <jailbrekr@digitaladdiction.net> on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @10:38AM (#33573832) Homepage

    I'd like to see a Nigerian try to smuggle THAT diamond in his butt.

    • by L4t3r4lu5 ( 1216702 ) on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @11:02AM (#33574178)
      I have a URL for you, but cannot post it because I am at work.

      The first part is the name of a domesticated animal of the Bovidae [wikipedia.org] family. The second part (appended immediately to the previous word) is the TLD for Sweden. The TLD for the domain is the NYSE abbreviation for Cemex SAB de CV.

      Hope this helps.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by RivenAleem ( 1590553 )

        I am a Nigerian Prince and I have a URL for you, which when accessed will give you access to 10 million dollers,

        Unfortunately I cannot post the link on this site, but if you visit wvw.stealyouraccountdata.c0m I can give you the direct link to near unlimited wealth!

        Please to help me as if 2 thousands of people visit the site, I shall be freed from jail. I am Nigerian prince, and have lots of money, so you can be sure this no is scam. I also recently found 4,000km large diamond which I try to smuggle out from

  • Apparently, they heard the Beatles lyrics as "Lucy in the sky's a diamond".
  • Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]
    SIMBAD [u-strasbg.fr]
  • This allows a new get rich quick scheme:

    1) Fly 50 years to there at the speed of light
    2) Mine the diamonds
    3) Fly back 50 years
    4) If you were able to get older than 100 years, you're now rich, enjoy!

  • by jitterman ( 987991 ) on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @11:13AM (#33574370)
    The Cassini spacecraft [newscientist.com] found something interesting in Saturn's rings.

    Wait... what year is this?
  • Old Spice Man strikes again!

  • A 4000km sphere has the volume of 3.35e19 m^3. In diamond, that masses at 1.18e20 tons, or 5.9e26 carats. At $5500/carat it's worth $3e30.
    Current railroad rates are 3c/ton*mile (there being no current space freight rates), so you'd pay $1e33 to bring it here.
    To summarize:

    A 6e26 carat diamond: $3e30
    Transportation: $1e33
    Giving your gold digger girlfriend an engagement ring she is not fat enough to wear: priceless

  • Wonder how that slice got taken out of it in the pic - and where it went!
  • From TFA: (Score:2, Insightful)

    by insnprsn ( 1202137 )
    Last Updated: Monday, 16 February 2004, 15:31 GMT

    My first thought reading the headline was, another one? Wait there's already a diamond star named Lucy.
  • This was the plot of an episode of Doctor Who back in 2007 ("Utopia"). In that story, Utopia was said to be a planet where the skies were made of diamonds.

    Maybe the Master is on his way to our time right now to be elected Prime Minister of Great Britain?

  • impossible (Score:4, Funny)

    by tverbeek ( 457094 ) on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @11:44AM (#33574930) Homepage

    This is obviously a hoax. Any early elementary school student can tell you that "diamond" and "star" are two entirely different shapes.

  • by formfeed ( 703859 )
    While you all marvel about the size of this diamond, let's not forget this is an uncut diamond we're talking about.
  • I was wondering where I left that thing.
  • It has a name, spectra...just watch out for star stealers trying to wrap the planet up in net and tow it away.... Maybe Rainbow Bright will come and save the day....
  • Could objects like this in a near spherical form have any effect on the "Dark Matter" measurements? I know measurements on dark matter involve more than just visual radiation, but perhaps we could get some professional opinions?
  • 1. Link
    2. Submit
    3. ???
    4. RTFA

  • by dpilot ( 134227 ) on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @01:57PM (#33577454) Homepage Journal

    Not very likely - merely the largest diamond within 50 or so light years. How extensive a survey have we made looking for dead-star diamonds? We weren't even looking for this one, just trying to understand and explain its behavior. Likely the truly largest diamond - in the universe, not just the galaxy - will be found approaching Chandrasekhar's Limit.

  • So old, I heard it in a stand-up comedy show first!

  • My wife will never look at her engagement ring quite the same way again.
  • Heh, perhaps this the OnOff system from Deepness in the Sky...
  • completely different (Score:4, Informative)

    by phlegmofdiscontent ( 459470 ) on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @04:34PM (#33579928)

    Besides being old, the article is inaccurate. What we consider a diamond consists of a lattice of carbon atoms linked by covalent bonds. This, quite simply, would not support itself against its own gravity. White dwarfs are made up of electron degenerate matter, supported by the Pauli exclusion principle. Electrons can only withstand being compressed to a certain point under this principle and that pressure offsets the inward pressure due to gravity. Covalent bonds as in a diamond would break down long before that. Yes, the star may be 100% carbon, but that doesn't make it a diamond. It's akin to saying graphite is the same as diamond since they're both 100% carbon. A carbon white dwarf is a completely different state of matter than a diamond.

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from a rigged demo.