Scientists have just found out that it rains solid diamonds on Uranus, and Neptune as well, thanks to the extreme pressures on those planets.
An amazing discovery by scientists suggests that it rains solid diamonds on Uranus as well as Neptune, and it’s because of the incredible conditions on those planets. The gems form due to the oceans filled with hydrocarbon that rap around the solid cores of these giant planets, and scientists have long though that extreme pressures might split the molecules into hydrogen and carbon.
As a result, the separated carbon crystallizes into diamonds, which then sink like rain through the “ocean” until they land on the solid core beneath. Up until now, however, scientists were unable to prove that this was the case. In a study published in the journal Nature Astrophysics, researchers were able to recreate this “diamond ring” with lasers and plastic.
Scientists had tried to replicate such conditions before, but imitating the insane pressure on these planets was difficult, as Neptune and Uranus have many times the mass of Earth. So researchers used two types of laser to produce shock waves, which were then driven through polystrene plastic made of hydrogen and carbon.
“In an experiment designed to mimic the conditions deep inside the icy giant planets of our solar system, scientists were able to observe “diamond rain” for the first time as it formed in high-pressure conditions,” reads a DOE/SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory statement. “Extremely high pressure squeezes hydrogen and carbon found in the interior of these planets to form solid diamonds that sink slowly down further into the interior.
“The glittering precipitation has long been hypothesized to arise more than 5,000 miles below the surface of Uranus and Neptune, created from commonly found mixtures of just hydrogen and carbon. The interiors of these planets are similar–both contain solid cores surrounded by a dense slush of different ices. With the icy planets in our solar system, “ice” refers to hydrogen molecules connected to lighter elements, such as carbon, oxygen and/or nitrogen.”