It is possible that some planets contain rivers of diamonds, according to a study to recreate the conditions that led to the presence of diamonds in the interior of the planets Uranus and Neptune.
Scientists hypothesized that enormous pressures transform hydrogen and carbon into diamonds, flowing thousands of kilometers below the gaseous surfaces of the two icy giants.
The study published in the journal “Science Advances” indicated that the friction of oxygen with this mixture facilitates the formation of diamonds. Dominic Krause, a physicist from the German research laboratory “HZDR” and one of the authors of the study, explained that these rivers are probably of a very special type.
Krause told AFP that diamonds likely formed from a “hot, dense liquid”, before slowly flowing into the rocky region in the middle of the two planets, 10,000 kilometers below their surface. Then the liquid spreads out in layers “at a distance of hundreds of kilometers or more”.
Scientists from the laboratory “HZDR”, the University of “Rostock” in Germany and “Ecole Polytechnic” of France are trying to recreate the conditions in which diamond rivers form.
The scientists used a simple type of plastic that plays a role in mixing the ingredients necessary to form diamonds, which are carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. This type of plastic is the same as that used in the manufacture of soft drink bottles, and then they exposed it to heat by using a powerful laser at the Slack Laboratory in Stanford, USA.
Krause pointed out that the nano-diamonds that formed were seen through very simple X-rays, but with an amazing density, and it is so small that it is impossible to see with the naked eye.
Oxygen “which is present in large quantities in these two planets” facilitated the formation of diamonds. Scientists believe that diamonds that form on these two planets may be larger than that of the component in tests performed on Earth, and their size may be equivalent to millions of carats, according to a statement published with the study.
This discovery paves the way for a new method to produce nanodiamonds, which is increasingly used in areas including medical probes, unconventional surgery or quantitative processing techniques.
The industrial method for manufacturing nanodiamonds is to subject carbon-rich materials to very powerful explosions. “Production of nanodiamonds by laser is a much cleaner and more easily controlled method,” said Benjamin Ofori-Okai, a scientist from Slack Laboratory and one of the study’s authors.
As for diamonds formed on Neptune and Uranus, the two farthest planets in the solar system, future space missions will have to wait to find out more information about it. Only one NASA probe, Voyager 2, has so far been sent to the two icy planets.
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