Scientists discover diamonds formed inside a long-lost planet of the Solar System

19 April, 2018, 01:59 | Author: Cecelia Webb
  • Could micro-diamonds reveal the secrets of the early solar system

And within those inclusions are signatures of a long-lost planet as large as Mars - a 4.5 billion-year-old relic that was destroyed during the earliest days of the solar system.

A decade after asteroid 2008 TC3 exploded over the Nubian Desert in northern Sudan, leaving behind a collection of small meteorites that would later be known as Almahata Sitta, researchers are still uncovering puzzling new details about this remarkable space rock.

Was found after the explosion, the meteor was mainly composed of coarse-grained rocks (olivine and pyroxene), which could be formed in the mantle of "planet-Bud", and the concentration of carbon in them was unusually high.

A new study suggests that the diamonds found within a meteorite that fell in the Nubian Desert in 2008 were part of an early lost planet in our solar system.

The microscopy results showed that these diamonds must have been formed at pressures above 20 gigapascals. They seem to have been formed inside bodies that no longer exist.

They discovered chromite, phosphate and iron-nickel sulfide embedded in the diamond, with compositions and morphologies that could only have occurred under greater pressure than 20 gigapascals - almost 200,000 times that of sea level atmospheric pressure.

Researchers collected these tiny meteorites into a collection called "Almahata Sitta"; this is the Arabic word for "Station Six", a train station nearby the meteorite fall and between Wadi Halfa and Khartoum. When the study authors pointed their microscopes on the inclusions in the diamonds, they discovered that each inclusion contained several different minerals, but always in the same relative proportion to those in the other inclusions.

Farhang Nabiei, a materials scientist at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, and his colleagues said the measurements provide "the first compelling evidence for such a large body that has since disappeared". The diamonds are said to be evidence of the early worlds. They determined materials like this could have only formed at pressures around 200,000 bar (2.9 million psi), something that could have only existed deep within a planet, one which would have been at least as big as Mercury or even Mars.

Next, the researchers turned their attention to what are known as chemical inclusions inside the diamonds.

Diamonds are considered as one of the most precious metals on Earth. These proto-planets varied in size from those as small as our moon today to those as big as Mars. Scientists say that under the meteorites' thick carbonized exterior hid diamonds which enclosed remnants of a long-lost planet or planetary embryo during the insane days of the early solar system.



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