Uranus could be full of giant diamonds, study concludes. (Source: NASA)
(RNN) - A new study confirms that ice giant Uranus – and neighbor Neptune – probably have atmospheric properties that will create torrents of gigantic diamonds that pour down to the planet’s core.
It takes enormous heat and pressure to crystallize carbon atoms and turn them into diamonds. That’s why the precious gems are so rare on Earth, where such conditions only happen deep below the planet's surface, according to Science Digest.
But on Uranus, the rocky core is comparatively tiny and covered by water, methane and ammonia ice. The whole thing is surrounded by a thick atmosphere that is enormously dense. While the top of the atmosphere is icy cold because of the great distance from the sun, once you get down about 5,000 miles, the pressure becomes enormous and causes incredible heat.
A study that duplicated those conditions synthesized a rain of diamonds about a billionth of a meter in diameter in a quadrillionth of a second. Despite the short duration of the experiment, the results point to the strong possibility that the same thing could happen on ice planets billions of miles from Earth.
The authors concluded that the stable conditions of Uranus are very likely to produce massive diamonds weighing millions of carats over long periods of time if not constantly. The diamonds would form deep in the atmosphere then continue downward to the core.
Like a hailstorm - only big, honking diamonds.
Copyright 2017 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.
News on space exploration, technology and the planetsSpace explorationMore>>