Space Research

Scientists claim diamonds inside a meteorite may hail from a lost planet

Back in October 2008, some pieces of diamond encased in a small asteroid fell from space and landed in the Nubian Desert of Sudan. A new study has found that the diamond pieces might have its origin inside of a planet that orbited the sun billions of years ago.

According to the study conducted by the researchers from Switzerland, France, and Germany, the diamond meteorite, dubbed as the Almahata Sitta, belonged to a protoplanet that collided with other objects in the space during the early days of the solar system at least 4.55 billion years ago.

For the purpose of the study, the researchers used a high-powered electron microscope to study the tiny diamonds inside a thin section of the meteorite. They determined that the pressure needed to form the diamonds would have taken place inside of a planet.

The researchers calculated that a pressure of around 200,000 bar (2.9 million psi) would have resulted in the formation of the diamonds.  As per the calculations, the protoplanet may have been as large as Mercury or even Mars.

Farhang Nabiei, the lead author of the study and a materials scientist at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland, said that examining the diamond and meteorite materials has helped them to come up with a possible picture of the early solar system.

Almahata Sitta has been classified as ureilite as it has high concentrations of carbon manifested as diamond and graphite. These types of rocks always have diamonds inside of them. Unfortunately, scientists have not been successful in tracing them to a source as the planet in question no longer exists as a whole.

Philippe Gillet, the co-author of the study, described that the meteorite is a part of the first generation of planets that were destroyed or swallowed up by a larger planet.

The study findings were published online in the journal Nature Communications on April 17.

About the author

Megha Kedia

Megha Kedia

Megha is a seasoned reporter with over six years of experience covering news in technology, science and related fields. At The Space News, Megha covers space research & technology news.

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