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Proved by scientists: in Neptune and Uranus it rains from real diamonds

On Neptune and Uranus, it really rains from diamonds. Scientists have proven this on Earth, writes Air force.

Photo: Shutterstock

Scientists have long suspected that rains made of real diamonds could be raining on Uranus and Neptune. Now this assumption is once again confirmed, and new evidence has been obtained empirically.

Both of these planets belong to the so-called ice giants, although in fact the substance of which they are composed is in a liquid-gas state, and its temperature reaches several thousand degrees.

The atmosphere of both Uranus and Neptune consists mainly of helium and hydrogen, but the heavier elements and substances, including methane, are deeper. According to the hypothesis, at a depth of about 7 thousand km the temperature and pressure reach such a value that methane must decompose into its constituent elements: carbon and hydrogen.

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As a result, lighter hydrogen rises into the atmosphere, and carbon under the influence of the environment turns into diamond crystals and, on the contrary, slowly sinks closer to the rocky-ice core.

To confirm this theory, researchers at the American National Accelerator Laboratory SLAC at Stanford University decided to recreate conditions on Earth close to those found in the depths of Uranus.

Scientists from SLAC managed to make this discovery with the help of unique laboratory equipment, and instead of methane (CH4), they used styrene (C8H8) - its physical properties are more similar to the substance into which methane is converted at such colossal pressure and temperature.

What does the elephants have to do with it?

With the help of a free electron laser LCLS (Linac Coherent Light Source), styrene was heated to a temperature of 5000 Kelvin (about so hot if you climb 10 thousand kilometers deep into Uranus or Saturn), and the pressure was increased to 1,5 million bar - according to one of the the authors of the experiment, "it's like putting 250 African elephants on your thumbnail."

As a result, they were able to see how the carbon contained in styrene turns into diamonds, and the rest of the substance is released in the form of pure hydrogen.

The world's first free-electron x-ray emitter was developed in the same laboratory. It amplifies X-ray waves, generating laser radiation without using a system of mirrors, and due to this allows more accurate measurements.

The theory of the appearance of diamonds on ice giants was put forward several decades ago - and since then has been repeatedly confirmed both by calculations and experimentally.

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In 2017, she was almost able to prove to specialists of the same SLAC laboratory in California. Then they used the Matter in Extreme Conditions (MEC) optical laser, but now (with the help of new precision equipment) the process of converting carbon into diamonds has been studied in much more detail.

Scientists know relatively little about Uranus and Neptune, the most distant planets in our solar system. Both of them are so far from the Earth that only the Voyager 2 space probe managed to reach them, but he only flew past them, since he had no task to closely study these planets.

According to NASA, in our galaxy there are about 10 times more ice giants similar to Uranus and Neptune (sometimes they are called cold Neptune) than the so-called cold Jupiters (in the solar system they include Jupiter itself, as well as Saturn) ...

The new discovery confirms yet another guess of scientists. The fact is that Neptune emits about 2,6 times more energy than it receives from the Sun. Apparently, if diamonds are really constantly dropping to the core of the planet, then their gravitational energy turns into heat due to friction with other materials, which heats the planet.

space planet Diamonds Educational program

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