Hyperspace professional Michio Kaku, writing in the BigThink blog, is thinking big about the most precious world in the universe:
The planet, called WASP-12b was observed with NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, using a technique in astronomy circles called a secondary eclipse (when the planet is blocked by its star). The planet itself was discovered last year but this new discovery has successfully assessed its atmosphere, proving that this is the first planet discovered that has the carbon-to-oxygen ratios reversed.
Team member Madhusudhan stated in a telephone interview with Bloomberg.com that “Like Jupiter, WASP-12b is made largely of gas, only it’s core contains carbon-based minerals such as diamonds and graphite.” Yes, this means that there could be mountain sized chunks of diamonds, but I suppose that they aren’t worth much considering that they are over 1,000 light years away. What’s most interesting about the discovery of a carbon-rich planet is that it suggests that our universe may be teeming with them (this we can only assume, as this is the first one, but it’s a safe bet). We are already aware that carbon basically forms the entire backbone of biology for the vast majority of life here on Earth.