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It’s raining diamonds throughout the universe, analysis suggests

Uranus and Neptune, ice giants the place scientists consider diamond rain falls beneath the floor.

It might be raining diamonds on planets all through the universe, scientists urged Friday, after utilizing widespread plastic to recreate the unusual precipitation believed to kind deep inside Uranus and Neptune.

Scientists had beforehand theorized that extraordinarily excessive stress and temperatures flip hydrogen and carbon into stable diamonds hundreds of kilometers beneath the floor of the ice giants.

Now new analysis, revealed in Science Advances, inserted oxygen into the combo, discovering that “diamond rain” might be extra widespread than thought.

Ice giants like Neptune and Uranus are regarded as the most typical type of planet outdoors our Solar System, which suggests diamond rain might be occurring throughout the universe.

Dominik Kraus, a physicist at Germany’s HZDR analysis lab and one of many examine’s authors, mentioned that diamond precipitation was fairly completely different to rain on Earth.

Under the floor of the planets is believed to be a “hot, dense liquid”, the place the diamonds kind and slowly sink all the way down to the rocky, probably Earth-size cores greater than 10,000 kilometers (6,200 miles) beneath, he mentioned.

There fallen diamonds may kind huge layers that span “hundreds of kilometers or even more”, Kraus instructed AFP.

While these diamonds may not be shiny and minimize like a “a nice gem on a ring”, he mentioned they had been shaped through comparable forces as on Earth.

Aiming to duplicate the method, the analysis crew discovered the mandatory mixture of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen in a available supply—PET plastic, which is used for on a regular basis meals packaging and bottles.

Kraus mentioned that whereas the researchers used very clear PET plastic, “in principle the experiment should work with Coca-Cola bottles”.

The crew then turned a high-powered optical laser on the plastic on the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in California.

“Very, very short X-ray flashes of incredible brightness” allowed them to observe the method of nanodiamonds—tiny diamonds too small to see with the bare eye—as they shaped, Kraus mentioned.

“The oxygen that is present in large amounts on those planets really helps suck away the hydrogen atoms from the carbon, so it’s actually easier for those diamonds to form,” he added.

New technique to make nanodiamonds?

The experiment may level in the direction of a brand new technique to produce nanodiamonds, which have a large and rising vary of functions together with drug supply, medical censors, non-invasive surgical procedure and quantum electronics.

“The way nanodiamonds are currently made is by taking a bunch of carbon or diamond and blowing it up with explosives,” mentioned SLAC scientist and examine co-author Benjamin Ofori-Okai.

“Laser production could offer a cleaner and more easily controlled method to produce nanodiamonds,” he added.

The diamond rain analysis stays hypothetical as a result of little is thought about Uranus and Neptune, essentially the most distant planets in our Solar System.

Only one spacecraft—NASA’s Voyager 2 within the Eighties—has flown previous the 2 ice giants, and the info it despatched again continues to be being utilized in analysis.

But a NASA group has outlined a possible new mission to the planets, probably launching subsequent decade.

“That would be fantastic,” Kraus mentioned.

He mentioned he’s tremendously wanting ahead to extra information—even when it takes a decade or two.

‘Diamond rain’ on giant icy planets could be more common than previously thought

More data:
Zhiyu He et al, Diamond formation kinetics in shock-compressed C-H-O samples recorded by small-angle X-ray scattering and X-ray diffraction, Science Advances (2022). DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abo0617. www.science.org/doi/10.1126/sciadv.abo0617

© 2022 AFP

It’s raining diamonds throughout the universe, analysis suggests (2022, September 4)
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