On Neptune and Uranus really rains of diamonds. Scientists have proved this on the Ground, BBC reports.
Scientists have long suspected that Uranus and Neptune can rain out of real diamonds. Now this assumption has been proved once again — and new evidence was obtained empirically.
Both these planets are so-called ice giants, although in reality the substance of which they consist, is in a liquid-gaseous state and its temperature reaches several thousand degrees.
The atmosphere of Uranus and Neptune, composed mostly of helium and hydrogen, but deeper are the heavier elements and substances, including methane. According to the hypothesis, at a depth of about 7 thousand km, the temperature and the pressure reach such a magnitude that the methane has to break down into its constituent elements: carbon and hydrogen.
The result is a lighter hydrogen rises in the atmosphere, and carbon under the influence of the environment is transformed into diamond crystals and, in contrast, sinks slowly closer to the rock-ice nucleus.
To confirm this theory, researchers at the us SLAC National accelerator laboratory at Stanford University decided to recreate on Earth conditions close to those that can be found in the depths of Uranus.
To make this discovery, scientists from SLAC succeeded with the help of unique equipment of the laboratory, and instead of methane (CH4), they used a styrene (C8H8) — its physical properties are more similar to the substance which is converted in methane under such enormous pressure and temperature.
What does elephants?
Using the free electron laser LCLS (Linac Coherent Light Source) styrene was heated to a temperature of 5000 degrees Kelvin (about as hot, if you go deep into Uranus or Saturn for 10 thousand kilometers), and the pressure increased to 1.5 million bar — according to one of the authors of the experiment, “it’s like putting a 250 African elephants on the nail of the thumb”.
As a result, they were able to see how the styrene contained in the carbon turns into diamonds, and the remaining part of the substance is excreted in the form of pure hydrogen.
The world’s first x-ray emitter on free electrons was developed in the same lab. It enhances the x-ray wave generating laser radiation without using a system of mirrors, and thus allows a more accurate measurement.
The theory of the origin of diamonds on the ice giants were made several decades ago — and since then has been repeatedly confirmed both by calculations and experimentally.
In 2017 it almost managed to prove the experts of the same laboratory SLAC in California. Then they used an optical laser-Matter in Extreme Conditions (MEC), but now with the new precision machinery — the process of turning carbon into diamonds studied much more in detail.
About Uranus and Neptune — the most distant planets of our Solar system — scientists know relatively little. Both of them are so far from Earth that to get to them was only space probe “Voyager-2” — but he just flew past them, as he was intently studying these planets.
According to NASA, our galaxy is about 10 times more ice giants similar to Uranus and Neptune (sometimes called cold Neptune) than the so-called cold Jupiters (to them in the Solar system are the Jupiter and Saturn).
The new discovery is, in turn, confirms another conjecture of scientists. The fact that Neptune emits about 2.6 times more energy than it receives from the Sun. Apparently, if the core of the planet, constantly drop diamonds, their gravitational energy is converted into heat due to friction with other materials that warms the planet.