Scientists examine diamond planets ‘unlike anything in our solar system’


This sparkling depiction depicts a carbon-rich planet with diamonds and silica as the main minerals.

Dan Shim / ASU / Vecteezy

Diamonds can be a rare commodity on Earth, but they are not lacking in the wider universe. Just the thoughtfully outrageous bling-rings you can get from an entire planet packed with sought-after gems.

Researchers at Arizona State University and the University of Chicago led a new study on carbon-rich exoplanets (planets located outside our solar system) and found that some of these wild worlds may be composed of diamonds and silica. Diamonds are made of carbon. Here silica is found on earth in quartz and sand.

“These exoplanets are unlike anything in our solar system,” said Harrison Allen-Sutter of ASU, the lead author of the paper, published in The Planetary Science Journal in a release last week.

What makes a diamond planet and what makes a planet like Earth? The stars and planets are formed from clouds of dust and gas, but this is a matter of proportion of some gases that feed into their formation. ASU stated, “A star with a low carbon-to-oxygen ratio would have Earth-like planets, which would contain silicates and oxides with very low diamond content (about 0.001% of the Earth’s diamond content).”

It resembles a diamond-preventive cell. A sample is compressed between two flat surfaces.

Dan Shim / ASU

Not all stars are equal to our Sun. Some have higher carbon-to-oxygen ratios, which – in combination with the presence of water – can give rise to carbon-rich planets.

The research team took the idea a step further and tested it in a laboratory experiment using diamond-anvil cells. That’s pretty much what it sounds like: two high-quality diamond-like shapes pointed at each other.

The scientists mimicked the interior of the carbide exoplanet by immersing silicon carbide in water and dipping it at a high pressure. The team added some laser heating to the mix.

“As they predicted, with high heat and pressure, silicon carbide reacted with water and turned into diamonds and silica,” Yuu said.

This latest study is based on previous investigations of planets that may be filled with diamonds. NASA closely monitors the 55 Canary E, An exoplanet that earned the nickname “Diamond Planet” due to research that suggests it has a carbon-rich composition.

Even if we can reach these diamond exoplanets, they will not appeal to go places. “While the Earth is geologically active (an indicator of habitat), the results of this study suggest that carbon-enriched planets are too hard to be geologically active and that the lack of geological activity may make the atmospheric structure uninhabitable,” ASU said.

Shine on, you drive crazy planets crazy.