Diamonds in desert asteroid point to long-lost planet

"It has a chemistry which has no equivalent in the solar system today, in terms of planets", he said. But researchers have discovered that one particular meteorite recovered from the Sudanese desert in 2008 is unique. They said that the pressure that is required in order to produce the diamonds can only be available in this type of planets with this size.

The diamonds and impurities found inside them suggest the rock came from inside a planet.

Our stellar neighborhood has eight main planetary bodies, but according to an global team of scientists, there could have been another planet in our backyard, one that might have been destroyed at infancy during the chaotic formation of the solar system or in the ensuing years.

The meteorites from this collision fall into a category of space rocks called ureilites, which account for less than one percent of objects that collide with Earth.

The diamonds we're familiar with are formed when sheets of carbon called graphite - the same material in pencil lead - are squeezed to incredible pressures.

The diamonds in the meteorite had chromite, phosphate, and iron-nickel sulfides embedded in them, known as "inclusions", the Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) said in a statement on Tuesday.

Using transmission electron microscopy and electron energy-loss spectroscopy, the team analysed the Almahata Sitta diamonds to see what these mineral inclusions were.

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"The particularly exciting thing is, [the researchers] have a really strong case with the pressures that they're measuring to say there really is no other way around the fact that this had to be a really big body present early in solar system history". He plans to seek out similar meteorites and search them for inclusions that might provide clues about their origins. Researchers monitored it closely as it entered the atmosphere and exploded 37 km above North Sudan's Nubian desert.

The research was published online yesterday (April 17) in the journal Nature Communications.

Scientists have found traces of an ancient protoplanet inside extraterrestrial diamonds that fell to Earth about 10 years ago.

Dr Nabiei continued saying, "Although this is the first compelling evidence for such a large body that has since disappeared, their existence in the early solar system has been predicted by planetary formation models".

Rest either went on to form bigger planetary bodies or ended up being destroyed by the sun or ejected out of the solar system.

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

  • Toni Ryan