Scientists have been discussing the theory about the possibility of diamond rain in Uranus and Neptune, the icy giant planets in our solar system.
The atmospheres Uranus and Neptune are mostly hydrogen and helium and have traces of hydrocarbons. Bot planets also have hydrocarbons and hot dense fluid icy materials—water, methane and ammonia. The blue appearance of the icy giant planets is due to methane.
Scientists believe that extremely high temperatures and pressures on the chemical elements found in the environments of Uranus and Neptune could form diamonds.
A team of scientists recently conducted an experiment designed to imitate the internal conditions of Uranus and Neptune. They simulated the environment found in these planets by creating shock waves in a thin polystyrene sheet with a laser blast (with the correct combination pressure and temperature) using the Matter in Extreme Condition (MEC) instrument at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory of the Department of Energy (DOE).
They examined the chemical reaction using the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS), the world’s brightest x-ray source.
The scientists found that polystyrene, which is a hydrocarbon polymer, breaks up into hydrogen and carbon atoms. They observed that every carbon atom compressed and formed into small diamonds.
Dominik Kraus, a scientist at Helmholts Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf and lead author of the paper published on Nature Astronomy, said, “Previously, researchers could only assume that the diamonds had formed. When I saw the results of this latest experiment, it was one of the best moments of my scientific career.”
On the other hand, Dirk Gericke, co-author of the research from the University of Warwick, said, “You actually see the atomic structure diamond.” He added, “In the planet, you have years, millions of years, and a long range of conditions where this actually can happen.
In an e-mailed statement to Gizmodo Kraus said the condition creates diamond rain inside such celestial bodies. He further explained, “This means that there is not necessarily a pure diamond core but certainly a large diamond envelope around the rocky cores that are supposed to exist inside Neptune and Uranus.”
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