Our Sun Will Eventually Turn Into a Multi-Trillion Ton Diamond

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Washington’s Blog

When stars use up their nuclear fuel, they turn into "white dwarf" stars. When white dwarf stars cool down, they crystallize.

In 2004, the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics discovered a cooled white dwarf 50 light years away from Earth.

At the core of that cooling star is a diamond 2,500 miles across, which weighs 5 million trillion trillion pounds, or around 2 thousand trillion trillion tons, or approximately 10 billion trillion trillion carats.

As the Harvard-Smithsonian Center explained:

 

A
white dwarf is the hot core of a star, left over after the star uses up
its nuclear fuel and dies. It is made mostly of carbon.

 

For
more than four decades, astronomers have thought that the interiors
of white dwarfs crystallized, but obtaining direct evidence became
possible only recently.

 

"The hunt for the crystal core of this
white dwarf has been like the search for the Lost Dutchman's Mine. It
was thought to exist for decades, but only now has it been located,"
says co-author Michael Montgomery (University of Cambridge).

 

The
white dwarf studied by Metcalfe, Montgomery, and Antonio Kanaan
(UFSC Brazil), is not only radiant but also harmonious. It rings like a
gigantic gong, undergoing constant pulsations.

 

"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," says Metcalfe.

Amazingly, according to the Harvard-Smithsonian team, our sun will also eventually become a giant diamond:

 

Our
Sun will become a white dwarf when it dies 5 billion years from now.
Some two billion years after that, the Sun's ember core will
crystallize as well, leaving a giant diamond in the center of our solar
system.

 

"Our Sun will become a diamond that truly is forever," says Metcalfe.

High-resolution images and a Quicktime movie on the giant diamond discovery are here.

For more mind-blowing science facts, see: