We are living in the future! Currently, we are regularly identifying planets outside of our solar system for the first time in history! Some of the planets we have found have many Earth-like qualities, and some not so much! Last year NASA devoted a Halloween-themed video and webpage to some of the more extreme planets they have found!
These include: “hellscape” planet HD 189733 b, whose winds reach 5,400mph and contain “torrential rains of glass blowing sideways”; the three “zombie worlds” circling pulsar star PSR B1257+12, which flash “sickly irradiated auroras” that though beautiful is extremely deadly, Kepler-70b (a.k.a. KOI-55), which at 12,000 degrees F, is one of the hottest planets known to humans!
These planets are not on our shortlist for space travel. But it is amazing to discover each and every one of them. One discovery has brought a whole new meaning to diamonds are a girl’s best friend!! Geophysicists now believe that a significant number of planets in our galaxy and beyond could be made up of mostly diamonds!! They base this on the fact that stars contain different proportions of elements and between 12 and 17 percent of planets are likely located around carbon-rich stars. As a contrast, our star is relatively low-carbon and in the early solar system that affected the composition of the planets orbiting it.
The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), which will deploy next years, will catalyze a new era of exoplanet exploration. Using infrared technology, the transit method, and state of the art spectroscopy, the telescope’s powers of magnification and spectrum analysis will allow scientists to search for biosignatures in the atmospheres of alien worlds.
Perhaps a question to consider now is how far into the future we will have to go to start worrying that the diamonds we are buying are ethically sourced in space!