Look up at the sky and imagine a rain of sparkling diamonds. Beautiful, but very unlikely sight.
However, physicist Dominik Kraus (Dominik Kraus) and his German research team believe that several planets in our Solar system is possible. For example, Neptune and Uranus.
The cores of both planets are made of water, methane and ammonia. So at the heart of these icy giants, according to scientists, there can be a kind of diamond rain.
In the new experiment, the researchers tried to reproduce the process.
“They got an interesting result,” he told NRK researcher at the Department of theoretical astrophysics, University of Oslo Henrik Eklund (Henrik Eklund).
It is theoretically possible
The hypothesis is that high temperatures and enormous pressure at depths of several thousand kilometers below the planet’s surface capable of degrading hydrocarbon compounds.
Henrik Eklund explains:
“At a temperature of several thousand degrees when the hydrocarbon molecules are destroyed, and the carbon atoms begin to move freely. And if this is also a very high pressure, they are pressed to each other strongly enough that they form new connections between them”.
Carbon shrinks and turns into diamonds. If they get large enough, they begin to fall down due to gravity. From a formal point of view, this could be called rain, he explains.
Research work published in Nature Communications.
It is difficult to reproduce the mass
Calculations and experiments ten years ago showed that of methane at a sufficient temperature and pressure can be diamonds. This strengthens the belief that such a phenomenon is possible.
In their experiments, the German researchers used x-ray lasers LCLS. It is expected that this method can provide the most accurate measurements of such processes. “We have received very promising results,” says Dominik Kraus.
The chemical composition of planets such as Neptune and Uranus, it is difficult to recreate.
For example, the researchers used polystyrene (used to make isopor) with the formula C8H8 is methane CH4.
Optical laser, pulsing, sending shock waves in polystyrene and heated to about 5,000 degrees. It was maintained and high blood pressure.
The results were very interesting.
We saw that carbon is transformed into diamonds, not taking a transient liquid form, says physicist Dominik Kraus.
“Exciting, but many questions remained unanswered”
Henrik Eklund believes these studies are advanced and very exciting. However, according to him, many questions still remain unanswered.
“Of course, the big question is whether herself used in the experiments the polystyrene as well as methane inside the Neptune. Another question is how the results of the process depend on time,” he says.
The researchers recreated the necessary conditions only for a split second, explains Eklund.
“The length of the process can have a significant impact on the actual structure potentially formed of diamond and the structure of the atmosphere of the planet as a whole.”
Previously, scientists have discovered that Neptune allocates 2.6 more energy than it receives from the Sun. Kraus connects it with their new discoveries.
He believes that the reason for this phenomenon may be the friction of the falling diamonds on the surrounding substance.