Diamond drizzle forecast for Saturn and Jupiter

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Lightning storms create carbon soot that might be compressed into diamonds as it falls through the atmosphere.

Forget diamonds in the sky — it may actually be raining diamonds on Saturn and Jupiter, according to two planetary scientists.

Researchers have long wondered whether the high pressures inside the giant planets could turn carbon into diamond, and even though some researchers dispute their claim, Mona Delitsky of California Specialty Engineering in Flintridge, and Kevin Baines of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, now say it is possible. They are laying out their argument this week at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society's Division for Planetary Sciences in Denver, Colorado.

In their scenario, lightning zaps molecules of methane in the upper atmospheres of Saturn and Jupiter, liberating carbon atoms. These atoms then stick onto each other, forming larger particles of carbon soot, which the Cassini spacecraft may have spotted in dark storm clouds on Saturn. As the soot particles slowly float down through ever-denser layers of gaseous and liquid hydrogen towards the planets' rocky cores, they experience ever greater pressures and temperatures. The soot is compressed into graphite, and then into solid diamonds before reaching a temperature of about 8,000 °C, when the diamond melts, forming liquid diamond raindrops, they say.

Written By: Maggie McKee
continue to source article at nature.com

9 COMMENTS

  1. There can be some very exotic materials formed under extreme temperatures and pressures.

    Diamonds on Earth form at depth under heat and pressure.

    I don’t know how much credibility these speculations about the gas giants have.

    • In reply to #1 by Alan4discussion:

      I don’t know how much credibility these speculations about the gas giants have.

      David Stevenson of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, and Luca Ghiringhelli of the Fritz Haber Institute, Berlin, are reported in the last part of this article as pointing out that Jupiter and Saturn are too poor in carbon for the formation of diamonds to be thermodynamically possible there. Dr Ghiringhelli expresses pretty much your own view, that we simply lack sufficient information about conditions on Jupiter and Saturn at present to draw any conclusions about diamond-formation.

  2. I had a Christian landlady who was convinced she was going to die and be given a home with all gold surfaces, including kitchen counter tops. If she got them, discovering everyone had them and they scratched easily would leave her disappointed.

    • In their scenario, lightning zaps molecules of methane in the upper atmospheres of Saturn and Jupiter, liberating carbon atoms. These atoms then stick onto each other, forming larger particles of carbon soot,

      More likely that the carbon will re-attach to the free hydrogen.

      In reply to #3 by Roedy:

      I had a Christian landlady who was convinced she was going to die and be given a home with all gold surfaces, including kitchen counter tops. If she got them, discovering everyone had them and they scratched easily would leave her disappointed.

      TiN would be better. (how to introduce science to your landlady)

    • In reply to #5 by headswapboy:

      Reading the comments here I’m disappointed that there will be no diamonds in the sky on those planets. I was about to get my telescope out to look for Lucy (I love her).

      You would need rather a large telescope for this one but it has a seriously large supply of diamond!

      http://news.nationalgeographic.co.uk/news/2012/10/121011-diamond-planet-space-solar-system-astronomy-science/

      At only 40 light-years away, in the northern constellation Cancer, the gemlike planet sits relatively near Earth. In dark skies, 55 Cancri e’s host star is clearly visible to the naked eye.

      Dubbed 55 Cancri e, the rocky world is only twice the size of Earth but has eight times its mass—classifying it as a “super Earth,” a new study says. First detected crossing in front of its parent star in 2011, the close-in planet orbits its star in only 18 hours. As a result, surface temperatures reach an uninhabitable 3,900 degrees Fahrenheit (2,150 degrees Celsius)—which, along with carbon, make perfect conditions for creating diamonds.

  3. The goings on in the universe never sees to amaze me when a super nova happens it is capable of creating everything we see on the periodic table so if we do the math’s and it tells us that diamond rain drops fall on Saturn it probably does.

    • In reply to #8 by Dublin-atheist:

      The goings on in the universe never sees to amaze me when a super nova happens it is capable of creating everything we see on the periodic table

      . . . . . And strange isotopes, states or forms!

      http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn11864-strange-alien-world-made-of-hot-ice.html#.Ulxp61OTlEc

      But the high pressures in the planet’s interior would compress the water so much that it would stay solid even at hundreds of degrees Celsius – the expected temperatures inside the planet. There are a variety of exotic ‘hot ice’ states possible in such conditions, with names like ‘Ice VII’ and ‘Ice X’.

      “Water has more than a dozen solid states, only one of which is our familiar ice,” says team member Frederic Pont of Geneva University. “Under very high pressure, water turns into other solid states denser than both ice and liquid water, just as carbon transforms into diamond under extreme pressures.”

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