Meteorite Diamonds present on Earth came from a lost planet

Meteorite Diamonds present on Earth came from a lost planet

Meteorite Diamonds present on Earth came from a lost planet

The parent planet was about as large as Mercury or Mars, and would have existed billions of years ago before breaking up in collisions with other space rocks, according to a European research team that published their results in the scientific journal Nature Communications.

The Almahata Sitta meteorite crashed into the Nubian Desert of Sudan in 2008 and has been a subject of study ever since.

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. Second, the flecks of diamonds inside the rocky meteorite were much larger than those often found in other space rocks. This particular set of diamonds were formed at 20 gigapascals - the entire weight of its home planet pushing down on it. Instead, the researchers suggested the diamonds were produced inside an unknown planetary body. The diamonds with the Almahata Sitta meteorite formed during a transition era in the solar system, when the dust and gas that swirled around the sun coalesced into planetary embryos, then grew into planets.

Two planets violently collide in space.       Shutterstock
Two planets violently collide in space. Shutterstock

But that's not the only thing that made Almahata Sitta special. The researchers used three different types of microscopy, which characterized the mineral and chemical substance present in the diamond-bearing rocks. First, it was a ureilite, a meteorite of unusual composition whose origin is disputed. First, the researchers' explanation for the graphite breaking up the diamond is that pre-existing diamonds were messed up by a later collision event-probably one that blasted apart the planetary body and freed these diamonds that were deep inside it.

Since ureilites "can give us a better idea of the formation and evolution of planets in the early solar system", Nabiei plans to use more of the material to "unlock the potential cosmic history hidden inside", National Geographic reported. They could only have formed under incredible pressure - the equivalent of diving 600 kilometers into Earth's interior or attempting to hold up 100,000 tons with your bare hands.

In the new study, lead author Farhang Nabiei, a materials scientist at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, in Switzerland, and colleagues detailed what they found upon analyzing the inclusions inside the ureilite diamonds. The environment likely looked very crowded too, with multiple Mars-sized protoplanets destined to collide into each other. And, according to a new study, these meteorite crystals provide the first physical evidence of an ancient lost building block from the dawn of the solar system.

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