'Lost planet' dropped diamonds from the sky billions of years ago

19 April, 2018, 01:57 | Author: Sam Montgomery
  • Could micro-diamonds reveal the secrets of the early solar system

On October 7, 2008, an 80-ton asteroid (2008 TC3) entered the Earth's atmosphere and exploded into hundreds of smaller meteorites about 23 miles above the Nubian Desert in Sudan.

Our solar system wasn't always made of nine eight planets-early in its development, there may have been several more nascent worlds developing around the sun. Thanks to electrostatic forces, these grains start to cling to each other. At that point, there were many more planets, and some were still forming.

Most planetesimals stay that size. "It is not surprising at all that there were Mars-sized objects that are now gone".

Our solar system began to form approximately 4.6-billion years ago - which means this hunk of rocks and such is pretty gosh-darned old. Eventually, these objects collided with the remnants being the eight planets we see today.

Although small in size - the largest ones measuring less than four inches, shows The Meteoritical Society - the Almahata Sitta meteorites help unravel the mysteries of our solar system's early days.

On Earth, diamonds are time capsules with fascinating stories to tell.

The meteorite in question fell in 2008 in Sudan and contained a type of meteorite rock called "ureilite" that is composed of minerals you'd only find in the deep mantle of the Earth. They were able to demonstrate that the origin of the diamonds wasn't a result of the impact but that the growth took place inside of a planet.

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However, until now, no evidence could be found to confirm any of these methods over the other.

The researchers posited this theory after gathering and analyzing the asteroid fragments through transmission electron microscopy.

Judging by the materials' shape and content, the diamonds encrusted in Almahata Sitta meteorites were formed under extreme internal pressure, pressure higher than 20 giga-Pascals, explains the Swiss institute.

Diamonds can act as time capsules: They trap nearby minerals during the formation process and, with their strength and stability, preserve material that scientists call inclusions. This calculation suggests that the protoplanet may have been as large as Mercury or even Mars.

"Although this is the first compelling evidence for such a large body that has since disappeared, their existence in the early Solar System has been predicted by planetary formation models", the researchers wrote in their paper.

Studying the chemical contents inside the diamonds, the scientists concluded that they were captured by the diamonds during an extremely high-pressure phase that could be found only in a planetary body between the size of Mercury and Mars.

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