Astronomers Spy
10 Billion Trillion Trillion-Carat Diamond

Associated Press
February 13, 2004


LOS ANGELES (AP) - If anyone's ever promised you the sun, the moon and the stars, tell 'em you'll settle for BPM 37093.

The heart of that burned-out star with the no-nonsense name is a sparkling diamond that weighs a staggering 10 billion trillion trillion carats. That's one followed by 34 zeros.

The hunk of celestial bling is an estimated 2,500 miles across, said Travis Metcalfe, of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

"You would need a jeweler's loupe the size of the sun to grade this diamond," said Metcalfe, who led the team that discovered the gem.

The diamond is a massive chunk of crystallized carbon that lies about 300 trillion miles from Earth, in the constellation Centaurus.

The galaxy's largest diamond is formally known as a white dwarf, or the hot core of a dead sun.

Astronomers have suspected for decades that white dwarfs crystallized, but only recently were able to verify the hypothesis.

A paper detailing the discovery has been submitted to The Astrophysical Journal Letters for publication.


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