Space diamonds came from planet lost billions of years ago

An illustration of the early solar system when the planet body of the Almahata Sitta meteorite may have existed
An illustration of the early solar system when the planet body of the Almahata Sitta meteorite may have existed
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19 April, 2018

It seems that the 80-metric-ton rock found on October 7, 2008, in Sudan, in the Nubian Desert contains traces of how our solar system was formed. Almahata Sitta is the first case in which meteorites have been recovered from a known asteroid that was tracked in space and during its subsequent collision with our planet. They gathered the tiny pieces and cataloged them into Almahata Sitta, a collection of rare meteorites that often carry nano-sized diamonds.

Now, a new study published in the journal Nature Communications supports that idea.

If the authors are correct, the rocks could be the first pristine samples - or ureilites - of a dead planetary embryo ever recovered on Earth.

Two planets violently collide in space.

Diamonds can form in a few ways, including in the high-temperature and high-pressure environments similar to those found deep inside earth. It seems they just might - and, yes, there is much more to this story.

Microscopic diamonds were found inside the Almahata Sitta meteorite after it crashed into Earth a decade ago. He plans to seek out similar meteorites and search them for inclusions that might provide clues about their origins. Diamond is blue, inclusions are yellow, and graphite is gray-black. They were riddled with tiny imperfections, called inclusions, made of chromite, phosphate and iron-nickel sulfides.

The finding boosted the theory that the solar system's planets were forged from the remains of large "proto-planets".

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Such planetary embryos got ejected from the solar system and either became rogue planets or smashed together.

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.

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

An artist's rendering of the Psyche spacecraft approaching a giant metal asteroid. According to the scientists, they reported that this type of conditions can only be possible in large planet body not in all planets. These proto-planets varied in size from those as small as our moon today to those as big as Mars.

A mission recently selected by NASA called Psyche is expected to launch a spacecraft to the metallic core of an asteroid in 2022.

The Psyche probe is set to visit the dead planet and analyze its secrets. As Sarah Kaplan reports for The Washington Post, it likely comes from a protoplanet that formed in the early days of our solar system.


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