For some planets, diamonds are not a rarity – they are the basis of existence.
New research published late last month in the Planetary Science Journal has shown that exoplanets with the right ratio of carbon to oxygen would be primarily made of diamonds and the natural composite silica.
“These exoplanets are not unequal in our solar system,” lead author Harrison Allen-Sutter of Arizona State University’s School of Earth and Space Exploration said in a news release.
The discovery comes as scientists, activated by more and more information from recent space missions, are able to put the pieces together and understand what planets far beyond our Earth look like.
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The science behind this hypothesis is extremely nuanced, but scientists were able to test their theory here by monitoring what happens while silicon carbide and water are sandwiched between diamonds at very high pressure. The complicated experiment, which also involved laser heating and X-ray measurements, successfully turned silicon carbide into diamonds as well as silica.
While they now have further evidence that diamond planets do or at least can exist, scientists do not believe that such worlds are capable of sustaining life.
“Regardless of habitability, this is a further step in helping us understand and characterize our ever-increasing and improving observations of exoplanets,” Allen-Sutter said. “The more we learn, the better we can interpret new data from upcoming future missions, such as the James Webb Space Telescope and the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope to understand worlds beyond our own solar system.”
In 2012, astronomers thought they discovered such a planet made of diamonds, and it was so close to our world that it was visible to the naked eye.