Scientists Have Recreated The Diamond Rain That Falls On Neptune And Uranus

Greg Stewart/SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

The diamonds obtained in the experiment are a few nanometers in diameter. On Uranus and Neptune, diamonds wouldn’t stay that small, though. Researchers expect them to grow to hundreds of kilograms in size. The interior environment of these planets is a solid core surrounded by a dense slush of different ices. Researchers have long suspected macrodiamonds would form and then, possibly, over thousands of years sink through the ice and accumulate around the core. Neptune might actually have a diamond encrusted core.

There are still many things we need to understand about the processes that go on inside these giant planets. Researchers plan to use the same method to find out what else is going on the atmospheres of these worlds. They are already conducting experiments shocking material made of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen.

"Those icy giant planets have many constituents. We have just completed an experiment that used a different type of plastic that contained oxygen and we investigated if diamonds form as well in those conditions." Professor Glenzer added. 

The research not only has consequences in planetary science but also on many earthly fields. Medicine and engineering use nanodiamonds in several applications and shocked plastic is one of the approaches used to ignite hydrogen in certain fusion reactors. A better understanding of the icy giants might have many interesting repercussions on Earth's technology and energy production.

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