Diamonds in a Meteorite May Be a Lost Planet's Fragments

Diamonds in a Meteorite May Be a Lost Planet's Fragments

But, according to a new study, these meteorites have a much more dramatic origin and history than meets the eye. Now, scientists at Philippe Gillet's lab at EPFL, with colleagues in France and Germany, have studied large diamonds (100-microns in diameter) in some of the Almahata Sitta meteorites and discovered that the asteroid came from a planetary "embryo" whose size is between Mercury to Mars.

"These missions will help us learn about the infancy of our solar system, a period just 10 million years after the birth of our sun", Green said of Psyche and another mission, Lucy, in a 2017 NASA video.

But, as The Washington Post says: "That is not even the coolest thing about Almahata Sitta".

Ten years ago, a meteorite exploded in the sky above Sudan's Nubian Desert.

Therefore, the meteorite diamonds reveal information about their parent protoplanet.

The diamonds we're familiar with are formed when sheets of carbon called graphite - the same material in pencil lead - is squeezed to incredible pressures.

The study showed the diamonds must have formed at pressures above 20 gigapascals. Instead, the researchers suggested the diamonds were produced inside an unknown planetary body.

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A new study published in the journal Nature Communications reports that the meteorite contained tiny diamonds. "And indeed, they did".

But this is where the Almahata Sitta meteorites shed a light. This level of internal pressure can only be explained if the planetary parent body was a Mercury- to Mars-sized planetary "embryo", depending on the layer in which the diamonds were formed.

The finding jibes with what astronomers hypothesize about how the solar system formed.

Two planets violently collide in space. It is this debris that eventually coalesced into our current lineup of planets. Until now, the existence of these early worlds were only predicted by simulation models. The researcher said that the meteorites are the last remaining remnants of this lost planet.

While the claim that we have a chunk of missing planet seems like sci-fi, James Wittke, director of the meteorite laboratory at Northern Arizona University, tells Sample that the study is sound.

The discovery is another indication that during the initial phase of our solar system there were great protoplanets, which through giant collisions of "billiards" form the foundation stone for the creation of today's planets. "One as large as Mars seems a little surprising, but this paper presents the best, and perhaps only, type of evidence for determining the sizes of these parent bodies".

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