Diamonds from ureilites formed inside the deceased proto-planet mesopodopsis

An artist's illustration of a protoplanet

An artist’s illustration of a protoplanet

The Almahata Sitta meteorite was named after where in northern Sudan the space rock exploded in 2008.

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 a new study published Nature Communications, that's exactly what we have on our hands-one of the study's co-authors, Philippe Gillet, claims that the large diamonds his team found in the Almahata Sitta meteorite "cannot be the result of a shock but rather of growth that has taken place within a planet".

The particular composition and morphology of these materials can only be explained if the pressure under which the diamonds were formed was higher than 20 GPa (giga-Pascals, the unit of pressure). Although scientists have long hypothesised about the existence of these early planets, the diamonds provide the first physical evidence of their theory.

The impurities trapped within the Almahata Sitta diamonds - crystals of chromite, phosphate and iron-nickel-sulfide - are the first to have been discovered in an extraterrestrial diamond.

Studying the chemical contents inside the diamonds, the scientists concluded that they were captured by the diamonds during an extremely high-pressure phase that could be found only in a planetary body between the size of Mercury and Mars.

More news: Harry Anderson, quirky Judge Harry Stone on 'Night Court,' dies at 65

These are two of the smallest planets in the solar system, which was forged about 4.6 billion years ago.

He said the study provided convincing evidence that the ureilite parent body was one of the "lost" planets before it was destroyed.

Researchers collected these tiny meteorites into a collection called "Almahata Sitta"; this is the Arabic word for "Station Six", a train station nearby the meteorite fall and between Wadi Halfa and Khartoum. The space rock is classified as ureilite, a type of rare meteorite that has embedded within it several different types of minerals.

If the researchers' interpretation of these diamonds is correct, however, this is the first such evidence.

This awesome finding could help us figure out one of the most enduring questions of astronomy, that of the formation of planets. This suggests that the diamonds formed deep in a body's interior and not on impact. These proto-planets varied in size from those as small as our moon today to those as big as Mars.

Lead researcher Dr Farhang Nabiei from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne told the Daily Mail that although meteorites come from other planets this one is very specific.

Latest News