Could it be? Is it really raining diamonds on two of the planets in our solar system?
If you heard the term ‘Diamond Rain,’ you may think it is a new song from a pop band or something. But in reality, it is an activity that scientists think is happening on two – possibly more – of our solar system’s planets. It is because of the hydrocarbon-filled atmospheres that exist on Uranus and Neptune that this strange phenomenon is believed to be occurring. To be sure – these are very dangerous greenhouse gases, but based on a study that was published in Nature Astronomy, diamond rain is more than possible.
A Diamond Thunderstorm?
Oddly enough, this theory is not at all a new one. In fact, astrophysicists first suggested the idea of diamond rain might be happening on several of our sister planets for more than three decades now. However, up to now, no one had ever bothered to design an experiment to create and measure all aspects of the phenomenon before. We have long known that hydrocarbons like methane are very abundant in the atmospheres of the planetary gas giants. And we have also known it is these gases that are responsible for the unique color of Neptune.
These gas giants have several layers within them and each layer has its own temperature and pressure. It is thought that diamond rain is occurring roughly 5,000 miles below the surface of these planets, in what is referred to as the intermediate zone. Carbon rises up to the atmosphere from the planets’ center.
Seas of Molten Diamonds and Gemstone Icebergs?
Since there are incredibly high pressures in these intermediate zones, the hydrogen and the carbon are crushed together resulting in the formation of hydrocarbon gas and also releasing diamonds. These diamonds then gently drift to the surface underneath. The diamonds wind up sinking into the planet and resting on its solid core. Thus, an authentic diamond layer is formed around the planet core. This leads scientists to deduce that there are seas of a molten diamond there as well, with floating gemstone icebergs.
It is estimated that there are diamonds there that weigh in excess of thousands of pounds. Unfortunately, there is no current technology available that could collect these huge gems. For starters, none of today’s spacecraft would ever withstand the intensely high pressures found there.
Diamond Rain Process Recreated
This diamond rain process was recreated by researchers using the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS). This LCLS is actually an x-ray camera that has a very bright flash that is capable of taking photos of atoms and molecules. This method can string together images to create videos of chemical processes while they occur.
Scientists used polystyrene, which is a plastic compound to simulate one that was made by methane. When researchers created a series of shock waves in this plastic, high-pressure environments were created that were comparable to those found in the inner regions of Uranus and Neptune.
As these shock waves increased, newer waves overtook old waves creating a disturbance. When this happened, almost all of the plastic used was transformed into small diamonds. And then was when everyone realized that the long-held theory of diamond was entirely plausible.
So yes, it really could be raining diamonds on these two planets …