Diamonds in Meteorite May Hail from Our Ancient Solar System

Diamonds in Meteorite May Hail from Our Ancient Solar System

Diamonds in Meteorite May Hail from Our Ancient Solar System

Scientists have discovered that tiny diamonds found inside a meteorite show signs of originating in a lost planet - one that dates back to the earliest days of the Solar System.

These are two of the smallest planets in the solar system, which was forged about 4.6 billion years ago. The meteorite is called Almahata Sitta.

The diamonds and impurities found inside them suggest the rock came from inside a planet.

In the beginning, our solar system was in complete chaos, with bodies colliding and forming planets, and astronomers think that there were once other 10 planets in our solar system.

The diamonds we're familiar with are formed when sheets of carbon called graphite - the same material in pencil lead - are squeezed to incredible pressures. Transmission electron microscopy also revealed traces of chromite, phosphate, and iron-nickel sulfides inside the larger diamonds, which are inclusions that can be found in Earth's diamonds, too. Some collisions formed larger worlds, while others created systems of planets and satellites like the Earth and its moon.

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With the help of a high-power electron microscope, the researchers studied the tiny diamonds inside a thin section of the meteorite and were astonished to learn they were formed at incredibly high pressures - much higher than any kind of pressure the meteorites might have been subjected to when they crashed into Earth.

The rock is one of the fragments that was recovered in the Nubian desert after the explosion of a small asteroid over the skies of this region of Sudan, in October 2008. The space rock is classified as ureilite, a type of rare meteorite that has embedded within it several different types of minerals. However, scientists made a decision to volunteer and search for fragments that came from the asteroid, and they were able to collect more than 600 pieces of the meteorite.

The team of scientists from France, Switzerland and Germany published their results in the latest journal of Nature Communications. This particular set of diamonds were formed at 20 gigapascals - the entire weight of its home planet pushing down on it.

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". These have been known for a long time to exist inside Earth's diamonds, but are now described for the first time in an extraterrestrial body.

Rest either went on to form bigger planetary bodies or ended up being destroyed by the sun or ejected out of the solar system.

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