Now that’s a gem in the universe.
Researchers believe they have identified a unique gemstone planet which could be unlike anything we’ve ever seen before.
Dubbed HD219134b, the mysterious alien world is located 21 light years away from Earth, in the constellation Cassiopeia. It orbits the star HR8832.
Unlike Earth, the mysterious planet which is thought to be covered in sapphires and rubies does not have a massive iron core. Instead, it is incredibly rich in calcium and aluminum, which makes the world incredibly rich in gemstones.
Caroline Dorn, an astrophysicist at the Institute for Computational Science of the University of Zurich who led the new study said: “Perhaps it shimmers red to blue-like rubies and sapphire because these gemstones are aluminum oxides which are common on the exoplanet.”
HD219134b is also believed to have nearly five times the mass of Earth, which places it into our category of Super-Earths.
The planet is believed to orbit its host star with a year that is equivalent to just three days long.
The planet is also one of three candidates which astronomers believe belong to an entirely new, exotic class of alien worlds.
So, what makes them so different?
As stars like our sun form, they are surrounded by a disk of gas and dust in which planets are born.
Rocky planets, similar to Earth, are believed to come into existence out of solidified bodies that are composed of the leftover when proto-planetary gas disc dispersed.
Just like lego blocks coming into place, these planetary building blocks condense out of the nebula gas as the proto-planetary disk cooled down.
According to Dorn, “Normally, these building blocks are formed in regions where rock-forming elements such as iron, magnesium, and silicon have condensed.”
Eventually, planets like Earth are formed which have an iron core.
But planets are believed to form in other regions as well.
Astronomers argue that regions close to the star, where extreme temperatures rule, are also believed to produce planets.
But not just any type of planets.
Astronomers suggest that it is there where a new exotic type of planet comes into existence.
Unlike Earth’s iron core, these new worlds are mainly composed of calcium and aluminum, as well as magnesium and silicon where iron is nearly non-existent.
“This is why such planets cannot, for example, have a magnetic field like the Earth,” explains Dorn.
This means that they are an entirely new, exotic class of Super Earth, where Gemstones and Sapphires are abundant.
“What is exciting is that these objects are completely different from the majority of Earth-like planets,” explains Dorn adding if of course ‘they actually exist.’
“So, we have found three candidates that belong to a new class of super-Earths with this exotic composition’ the astrophysicist summarizes,” concludes Dorn.