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Page last updated at 13:37 GMT, Thursday, 9 December 2010
Diamond planet found by Keele University astronomers
WASP-12b is the first planet found where the oxygen/carbon ratio is reversed

A team of UK and US astronomers, including members of Keele University's astrophysics group, have found a new planet which could be rich in diamonds.

Planet WASP-12b is the size of Jupiter and among the hottest planets known.

It is a carbon-rich planet, orbiting a star 1,200 light years away from Earth.

Keele astronomers Professor Coel Hellier, Dr Pierre Maxted and David Anderson are co-authors of the study, published in Nature - one of the world's leading science journals.

The planet was originally found last year by the Wide Angle Search for Planets (WASP) project, the UK's leading team of planet discoverers.

NASA Telescope

Since then it has been observed by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope.

"Because WASP-12b is so close to its star and so hot," explains Prof Coel Hellier, "the Spitzer Space Telescope can detect the heat of the planet, and studying this radiation tells us which molecules are in its atmosphere."

"Predicting that there would be diamonds is an extrapolation, but we think that there could well be diamonds in a solar system made of the sort of material that this planet is made of," added Prof Hellier.


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