A DIAMOND the size of EARTH has been discovered by astronomers – providing proof our own sun will one day also become a planet sized gemstone.
The space diamond, estimated at 10 billion-trillion-trillion-carats (a one followed by 34 zeros) is about 2,500 miles across and is just 50 light years from earth in the constellation Centaurus.
The precious gemstone is less romantically described by the research team at Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, in Massachusetts who discovered it as a mass of crystallized carbon.
It was formerly known as star BPM 37093 – a former star roughly the size of our sun which collapsed in on itself after it could no longer sustain nuclear reactions because the fuel was spent.
A white dwarf remains hot and pulsates but over time the carbon crystalises into diamond.
Amazingly white dwarves also ring like gigantic gongs which allowed the team to measure and investigate.
Leading astronomer Travis Metcalfe said: “By measuring those pulsations, we were able to study the hidden interior of the white dwarf, just like seismograph measurements of earthquakes allow geologists to study the interior of the Earth.
“We figured out that the carbon interior of this white dwarf has solidified to form the galaxy’s largest diamond.”
And our own sun is judged to be the right size to become a white dwarf when it dies five billion years from now. About two billion years after that the sun’s core will also crystallise leaving a giant diamond in the centre of the solar system.
Mr Metcalfe added: “Our Sun will become a diamond that truly is forever.”