A new study suggests that the diamonds found within a meteorite that fell in the Nubian Desert in 2008 were part of an early lost planet in our solar system. How did they reach this conclusion?
It seems that the 80-metric-ton rock found on Oct. 7, 2008, in Sudan, in the Nubian Desert contains traces of how our solar system was formed. Looking at the pieces of meteorite called Almahata Sitta, or 2008 TC3, researchers were trying to find where it originated from.
No Evidence Until Now
In the beginning, our solar system was in complete chaos, with bodies colliding and forming planets, and astronomers think that there were once other 10 planets in our solar system. Lead author of the study, Farhang Nabiei, who is a scientist at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, at the Earth and Planetary Science Laboratory (Switzerland), explained his work:
“Some of [these bodies] collided and were destroyed. Some were thrown out of the solar system. But we don’t have information from them. We don’t have much evidence from those specific planetary embryos.”
But this is where the Almahata Sitta meteorites shed a light. And the scientists found some of their answers by looking at the diamonds inside the asteroid. These meteorites contain a lot of carbon and tiny diamonds, similar to what we have naturally in the mantle of our planet.
Diamonds can form in three ways: from a shockwave that will transform the mineral into diamonds because of the high impact – like the collision of objects, the second way happened in the solar nebula where there is a carbon-rich vapor; and finally, just like it happens on Earth, diamonds form inside a body that has a very high pressure on the mineral.
Scientists have used special electron microscopy and found out that the diamonds in the asteroid were formed due to a pressure that can only occur in a big object, such as a planet (of a size similar to Mercury or Mars).
That meant one thing: this asteroid is part of a long-lost planet.
“We’ve often wondered, what is the parent body that formed this thing?” said Peter Brown, a professor at Western University’s department of physics, when he found out about the study. He admitted that:
“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.”
Doris’s passion for writing started to take shape in college where she was editor-in-chief of the college newspaper. Even though she ended up working in IT for more than 7 years, she’s now back to what he always enjoyed doing. With a true passion for technology, Doris mostly covers tech-related topics.