Science Saturday: Diamond Planet + Star-Swallowing Black Hole + Super Supernova + NASA Sci-Fi Novels

Welcome back to a long overdue edition of Science Saturday. This week: make three ground-breaking astronomical discoveries including a diamond planet, a star-swallowing black hole, and the supernova of a generation. Also, team up with NASA and Tor/Forge Books to create NASA-inspired sci-fi novels.


Three Amazing Astronomic Discoveries: A Planet Made of Diamond, A Star Swallowed by a Black Hole, and the Supernova of a Generation!
This week, astronomy telescopes of all sorts have been busy collecting data. And, what they’ve found is three ground-breaking discoveries both inside and outside of the Milky Way.

Astronomers Discover Planet Made of Diamond

Only 4,000 light years away (or about one eighth of the way to the center of our galaxy) lies a small and extremely dense planet orbiting a neutron star. The newly discovered planet is far denser than any other known so far, and it appears to be composed almost entirely of carbon. Because of it’s evolutionary history and extreme density, that carbon is likely crystalline, aka diamond. The planet is probably the remnant of a previously massive star that has since shed its outermost layers. No one can say for sure what the diamond planet looks like close up, so we’ll leave that to the sci-fi writers. Diamond mountains and beaches of diamond sands?

An exotic diamond planet

First Ever Glimpse of a Supermassive Black Hole Swallowing a Star
Scientists have, for the first time, witnessed a black hole tear apart and swallow a star that got just a little too close. Until now, astronomers had only seen the aftermath of these events. The Swift satellite observed a set of extremely bright gamma ray bursts originating from outside of our galaxy. Scientists say that these bursts are nothing like those seen before. Based on additional radio telescope observations, scientists concluded that the gamma rays were emitted from a nearby galaxy after the black hole in its center ripped apart a star named Swift J1644+57. Results were published in the August 25 issue of Nature.

The “Supernova of a Genration” Discovered in Nearby Galaxy
Yesterday, a supernova was seen closer to Earth than any other of its kind — just around the corner in the Pinwheel Galaxy located in the Big Dipper. Astronomers are excited at the indications that the supernova was discovered just hours after it exploded. Astronomers at UC Berkeley who made the discovery say that this will be the most-studied supernova in history. As the supernova gets brighter, it might even be noticeable with binoculars in 10 days from now. The best time to see the exploding star is just after evening twilight in about a week. You’ll need dark skies, but it’s said to be brighter than any other supernova of its kind in the last 30 years, so a pair of good binoculars should do the trick.

The supernova of a generation in the nearby Pinwheel galaxy

NASA to Publish Science Fiction Book Series
In another melding of science and science fiction, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center has teamed up with Tor/Forge Books to develop and publish a series of “NASA-inspired works of fiction”. Scientists and engineers will work with writers to help raise awareness of the role that NASA plays in people’s everyday lives and to help inspire the next generation of American scientists and engineers.

NASA and Tor/Forge Books team up for sci-fi series

Science Bytes
Not enough science for you? Here’s a warp-speed look at some more science tid-bits that are worth a peek.


Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

I claim the Diamond Planet for the Terran Empire. Any others who try to enter into orbit will be Blown Up!!!

So sad for that Galexy for being torn apart by the Black Hole.
Hmm. Supernova. Could that be the one where Romulas is Destroyed.
Yeah. Still a couple of hundred years away.

Fact even more remarkable than (science) fiction!
Amazing stuff.

I think we might have just found Superman’s home planet! ;-)

Very cool article. I just hope we don’t have to wait another couple of months for the next one!

Would make one hell of a wedding ring.

OMG! … a diamond planet …everyone wants, right? …LOL

:-) :-)

(sings, Shatner-style)

“Lucy……. inthesky………… with diamonds!”

Hmm….I know this is a Star Trek site…but wasn’t Midnight (Doctor Who) a diamond planet? Interesting…

The Frost Giants await on Planet Bling Bling, I bet this planet is used by the Klingons to harvent Dialithium for their birds of prey

Maybe a diamond planet can motivate some space travel. If anything will motivate space travel it will be proffit. We are more like ferengi than anything else in Star Trek.

#5 to show true love on Diamond World they use lumps of concrete on wedding rings. ;-)

The diamond planet will be claimed by the Ferengi before humans develop real Warp travel I guess.

..gonna have to try and check out that supernova, thanks for the heads-up!

It’s not that you couldn’t make stuff like the diamond planet up, it more that you wouldn’t take the idea seriously if it *were* just made up. “Haw, haw! What else did you find? A gold planet with a moon made o’ cheesecake? Go on, tell me another one!”

The DeBeers are going to create their newest division, diamond space mining so it is time for us to buy their stocks. :)

Makes me think of Greater than the Sum, the last pre-Destiny TNG novel.

Nipping one idea in the bud- the diamond planet won’t have have volcanoes with diamond lava. Diamonds BURN, as many uninsured victims of house fires have discovered.

Nipping one idea in the bud- the diamond planet won’t have have volcanoes with diamond lava. Being pure carbon, diamonds BURN, as many uninsured victims of house fires have discovered.

Sorry about the double post- the first draft was accidentally sent.

@17: Yeah, but you know in your heart it would look really freaking cool! :)

I vote the Enterprise visits the diamond planet in the next movie. Just let ILM go nuts.

@21 No bad idea Enterprise visits a dimond planet or a reference similar to NASA.

Hey Bob Orci no es mal idea esto del planeta el enterprise visitando en su camino un planeta similar o una referencia con la imagen de NASA en el puente del enterprise.


#21 Yep. Sounds like a good plan to me…

On earth, carbon is formed into diamond by enormous heat and pressure. So before somebody writes the crew of the Enterprise running around in their standard duty uniforms on a diamond world for the sequel, think of what that would be like and what the gravity would do.

Of course, they could send Keenser down to see what happens.

Awsome stuff i want to see a supernova in our galaxy just as long as it is 5 to 10 thousand light years away

@10. Still got that pesky Theory of Reletivity to deal with….

Maybe it’s krypton.

Possible new Star Trek Series on the way!

I admit this: Had there been a diamond planet in an SF story I had read or watched, I would have said: What a cheesy idea!

No wonder that star died, no one could be arsed saying its name

Astronomers are excited at the indications that the supernova was discovered just hours after it exploded… 21 million years ago.

I hear the people of the Diamond planet have been at war with the people of the Cubic Zirconia planet for many years.

the day one is the victor will be a…(cough)…shining moment in their history!

32. Heh. Things are a lot harder on Liztayloria than on Zirconia. The stories we’ve heard don’t even scratch the surface.

@32, 33: I freaking love you guys. :)

#32. Harry Ballz…..


:-) :-)

32, 33: You guys got some stones posting jokes like that.

You guys are really a diamond in the rough

So I was thinking of taking a trip back home… oh, damn, what was that flash I saw?

@28 thanks for posting that! best part is that he wants it to be set in a period of time after voyager that preserves all the prior trek series and movies.

in terms of science saturday, very cool video on the black hole funny, i was just listening to my newley released collectors edition score of Disneys the black hole when i came across the science saturday write up.


Thanks, guys!

As Bob Orci loves to say, “I keed, I keed!”

Ooooh, just like one of Yukinobu Hoshino’s mangas. It’s a living diamond! Just makes me hope they have some form of awe inspiring idea/element/location in the next film.

Ceti Alpha 5?

Carat Size 946825849724913369270224859826501335!

Khan you imagine the ring size?

@28 That sounds like a fan dream that will likely never get off the ground, maybe even Rick Berman using an alias. If it does get picked up, please keep the Ferengi out of it! Otherwise, I’m all for it!

NASA inspired SciFi novels… hrm… could be good. “Voyage” by Stephen Baxter was outstanding, as was “Space” by James A. Michener. Baxter’s effort on “Titan” was blah… and Homer Hickam’s “Return to the Moon” is abysmal.

Sounds like this series will be geared twoards the young adult market… but if you are looking for a great read, I can’t recommend “Voyage” enough.


Thanks for the recommendations of the books Father Rob! I’m always on the hunt for a good book to read and your reviews have never steered me wrong so far! I’m putting “Voyage” on my pick list.

@ 28. Trek had been thourghly sterilized by the end of Voyager, so I’m not sure how they can “get back to Treks roots” while going forward from some point past Voyager. Young, sexy crew, rich Ferengi clan, this is already starting to reek. Enterprise got into trouble quick because it tried to apply the TNG era political/social sensibilities to the TOS era, and it didn’t work. The problem with any reboot, regardless of the era it occurs, is that at some point they are going to be forced to ignore canon, otherwise they will end up with bland and straightjacketed storytelling.


But if it’s set after Voyager—or perhaps FAR after that era—there’s really not much “canon” to follow, right? And aside from the Ferengi, how is the “young, sexy crew” any different than Trek ’09?

I say go for it, CBS. It’s certainly better than nothing, which is what we have at the moment.

Give it a chance. If it fails, cancel it. Start over. Reboot. That’s what they do these days, isn’t it?

Just set the new Trek series in the 25th century.
Hey, it worked for Buck Rogers.



That was funny! :-D
I can hear Brando’s narration already… ;-)

A diamond planet. I imagine that if it ever became reachable (and I’m a firm NON believer in a real life ‘warp drive’, but hypothetically), then Tiffany’s or any other high-end diamond store would be no more exotic or valued than grocery stores selling bags of charcoal bricks for the BBQ pit.

47. Give it a chance. If it fails, cancel it.

You cutting the check for their losses?