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Diamond-studded planet orbits sun-like star (+video)

Resent research found that more than one-third of the newly discovered planet, 55 Cancri e, may be covered in diamonds. This discovery marks the first of a planet so fundamentally different from Earth. 

The new planet found made of diamonds.
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Forget the diamond as big as the Ritz. This one's bigger than planet Earth.

Orbiting a star that is visible to the naked eye, astronomers have discovered a planet twice the size of our own made largely out of diamond.

The rocky planet, called '55 Cancri e', orbits a sun-like star in the constellation of Cancer and is moving so fast that a year there lasts a mere 18 hours.

Discovered by a U.S.-Franco research team, its radius is twice that of Earth's with a mass eight times greater. That would give it the same density as Earth, although previously observed diamond planets are reckoned to be a lot more dense. It is also incredibly hot, with temperatures on its surface reaching 3,900 degrees Fahrenheit (1,648 Celsius).

"The surface of this planet is likely covered in graphite and diamond rather than water and granite," said Nikku Madhusudhan, the Yale researcher whose findings are due to be published in the journal Astrophysical Journal Letters.

The study - with Olivier Mousis at the Institut de Recherche en Astrophysique et Planetologie in ToulouseFrance - estimates that at least a third of the planet's mass, the equivalent of about three Earth masses, could be diamond.

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