Diamonds from long-lost planet found in desert asteroid


But the most exciting thing about this space rock is it contains tiny fragments of diamonds - yes, diamonds! And within those inclusions are signatures of a long-lost planet as large as Mars - a 4.5 billion-year-old relic that was destroyed during the earliest days of the solar system.

On October 7, 2008, an asteroid entered Earth's atmosphere and exploded 37 km above the Nubian Desert in Sudan.

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.

According to Caltech University geochemist Paul Azimow, shock waves produce very tiny diamonds, whereas the ones found in Sudan are too big, meaning that they formed toward the center of an object large enough to produce the required amount of pressure and heat.

The study showed the diamonds must have formed at pressures above 20 gigapascals.

Scientists have found the first hard evidence of a large and ancient protoplanet embedded in extraterrestrial diamonds that fell to Earth about 10 years ago.

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Diamonds can act as time capsules: They trap nearby minerals during the formation process and, with their strength and stability, preserve material that scientists call inclusions. The planet would have been about the size of between Mercury and Mars.

The space rock, called Almahata Sitta, is extraordinary in several ways.

Researchers from France, Germany and Switzerland, headed by Farhang Nabei, of the Earth Science Laboratory and Planets of the Swiss Institute of Physics of the Swiss Federal School of Lausanne (EPFL), who published the publication in Nature Communications, used modern scientific methods and electronic microscopes to analyze in depth the meteorite.

However, these processes result in different size diamonds. Until now, the existence of these early worlds were only predicted by simulation models. Scientists say that under the meteorites' thick carbonized exterior hid diamonds which enclosed remnants of a long-lost planet or planetary embryo during the insane days of the early solar system. First, it was a ureilite, a meteorite of unusual composition whose origin is disputed. "This study provides convincing evidence the ureilite parent body was one such large "lost" planet before it was destroyed by collisions".

Also, the diamonds would have formed deep within whatever planet it was from, notes the report. Some of these bodies were almost as big as Mars and one of them, dubbed Theia, collided with Earth to throw our moon into orbit.