The interior of the planet 55 Cancri e – an extremely hot planet with a surface of mostly graphite surrounding a thick layer of diamond, below which is a layer of silicon-based minerals and a molten iron core at the center. Credit: NASA/REUTERS/Haven Giguere/Yale University

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

This is actually not the first time astronomers discovered a “diamond planet”, but this planet resides “only” 40 light years from Earth. That is, relatively close in space terms.

The planet was discovered by a French-American research team and has named the planet “55 Cancri e”.

The research team based at Yale University has published a paper reporting the findings. It has been accepted for publication in the journal Astrophysical Journal Letters.

Lead researcher and postdoctoral in physics and astronomy Nikky Madhusdhan explain, “This is our first glimpse of a rocky world with a fundamentally different chemistry from Earth,”. “The surface of this planet is likely covered in graphite and diamond rather than water and granite.”, she adds.

Co-author and Yale geophysicist Kanani Lee, “By contrast, Earth’s interior is rich in oxygen but extremely poor in carbon — less than a part in thousand by mass,”.

But even if could travel to “55 Cancri e” for a diamond rush, it would definitely be difficult to survive on the planet which lacks an atmosphere and the immense heat at the surface is believed to be around 1,650 degrees Celsius, about 200 degrees warmer than the flame of a candle.

Nearby super-Earth likely a diamond planet