Elias 1

It’s a baby star. It’s still in it’s stellar nursery and isn’t fully grown yet.
It’s an interesting little thing, too…
Actually, I lie. It’s a close binary pair. Twins, if you will. Incidentally, both of them show up as the big blue-ish star in this image.
V892 Tau and V1023 Tau

Actually, one of the main reasons Elias 1 is such an interesting pair of stars is because of the nanodiamonds found in it’s circumstelar disk. It makes me wonder about how they form… Actually, one thought that sprang to mind was an old method for making industrial diamonds. Basically, they take a big plate of high carbon steel, and slam a big iron plate into it at a ludicrous speed. The steel shatters and mostly crumbles into dust, but the carbon nodules in it briefly experience enough pressure to recrystallise into tiny diamonds.

When a star collapses enough to ignite nuclear fusion, it would create a shock front from the sudden release of lots and lots of energy. This shock front would expand outwards (probably at a significant fraction of the speed of light) and create huge pressures at it’s bow front. I can only guess that it’s these pressures that would cause any carbon in the vicinity to precipitate into diamond dust. It’s analogous to the steel plate being slammed into at high speed. It seems like a reasonable mechanism to me.

I think I need to read up more about the Jeans Instability and the exact mechanics of star formation. If I’m correct about this mechanism, it may help shed a little light on the nature of these nanodiamonds (if not, I’ll know I’m barking up the wrong tree). They’ve only been detected around two young stars, but I believe Elias 1 is edge on, so the stars light shines through the disk itself to get to us. It’s feasible that they’re more prevalent but impossible to detect in other stellar environments. Currently, I don’t know enough to make any predictions, but it’s a reasonable speculation to make.

All the same, a star studded with diamonds… It’s quite a poetic notion.

About Invader Xan

Molecular astrophysicist, usually found writing frenziedly, staring at the sky, or drinking mojitos.
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