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Twisted Physics

Diamonds in the Sky

7 May 2009, 18:55 UTC
Diamonds in the Sky
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With Mother's Day fast approaching, jewelry retailers are anxiously hawking their wares, assuring us that what Mom really needs to feel appreciated is a lovely diamond necklace or diamond earrings -- and the rarer the gem (and hence more expensive), the more special she'll feel. I'm sure most moms don't really need diamonds; breakfast in bed is fine, even if the toast is burnt, because it's the gesture that's meaningful. But if I were going to buy my mom a diamond pendant, I'd want to gem to be something truly rare: a diamond from outer space.What, you don't think there are diamonds in space? If course there are! Granted, they're awfully tiny -- less than the width of a human hair -- but there are countless numbers of them scattered throughout the circumstellar disks around very special distant stars, like Elias 1, located in the general vicinity of the constellation Taurus. Astronomers aren't sure what makes these stars so special -- their humbler counterparts aren't adorned with tiny diamonds -- and they'd like to find even more of them. Such is the quest of the Subaru Telescope, one of the largest optical-infrared telescopes in the world, located on the summit ...

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