While "it's raining cats and dogs" might be a common phrase on planet Earth, apparently on Neptune and Uranus, "it's raining diamonds." But it's not as simple as it sounds: We're investigating further into this fascinating prospect and checking out the research behind it. New scientific experiments here on Earth suggest that diamonds essentially fall from above on the more icy planets such as Neptune and Uranus. Here's what experts found...
A study conducted by various researchers across the globe has discovered the common existence of diamond rain throughout the galaxy. While earlier studies believed these diamonds were only present in the rain of the largest planets, such as Saturn, these findings suggest it's more widespread. In the search for a substance that resembles the chemical composition of ice giants, the researchers used a PET plastic which is found in store-bought bottles. This helped to add quantities of oxygen to the study that were not present in the earlier studies. The plastic was then zapped with a laser to represent the atmospheric pressures that are present on such planets.
According to Dominik Kraus, a physicist at Germany's University of Rostock, the oxygen worked to speedily split the carbon and hydrogen, instantly promoting the creation of nanodiamonds. The carbon atoms could easily bond and form diamonds because of the oxygen present. In layman's terms, as simulated in the study, because there is more oxygen in the environment of frozen gas giant planets, there are more diamonds.
The findings, published in Science Advances on Friday, have unsurprisingly been met by much interest. Within the study, the team declared that Neptune and Uranus-produced diamonds could weigh up to a million carats. At present, the heaviest diamond on Earth weighs 3100 carats. They also speculate that the surfaces of these planets are covered in a layer of diamonds. While they're not recommending mass diamond digging in the outer universe, they propose this research is used to create nanodiamonds on Earth. At present, they are made through carbon and diamond explosive practices, so using lasers could be a cleaner and easier approach. These nanodiamonds could then be used in sensors and renewable technologies. Further studies have been planned. Stay tuned.