Meteorite diamonds ‘came from lost planet’

Latest news

    Almahata SittaImage copyright EPFL / Hillary Sanctuary
    Image caption The asteroid fragments are collectively known as the Almahatta Sitta meteorites

    A diamond-bearing space rock that exploded in Earth’s atmosphere in 2008 was part of a lost planet from the early Solar System, a study suggests.

    The parent “proto-planet” would have existed billions of years ago before breaking up in a collision and was about as large as Mercury or Mars.

    A team has published their results in the journal Nature Communications.

    They argue that the pressures necessary to produce diamonds of this kind could only occur in planet of this size.

    Using three different types of microscopy, the researchers characterised the mineral and chemical make-up of the diamond-bearing rocks. The fragments were scattered across the Nubian desert of northern Sudan after the asteroid 2008 TC3 exploded 37km above the ground on 7 October 2008.

    Image copyright Seti / P Jenniskens / M Shaddad
    Image caption The meteorites fell to Earth in the Nubian desert of Sudan

    About 50 pieces of the 4m-wide space rock – ranging in size from 1-10cm – were eventually gathered. The fragments are known collectively as the Almahata Sitta meteorites (the name is Arabic for “Station Six”, after a nearby train station).

    Some of the material trapped in the diamonds since formation (these features are known as inclusions) can only form above pressures of about 20 gigapascals (GPa), the scientists report. Such conditions “can only be attained in a large planetary body”.

    Farhang Nabiei, from the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland, and colleagues say the measurements provide “the first compelling evidence for such a large body that has since disappeared”.

    The finding also boosts the theory that today’s Solar System planets were forged from the remains of tens of large “proto-planets”.

    Image copyright SPL
    Image caption Artwork: The asteroid may have been part of a proto-planet in the early Solar System

    The parent body for 2008 TC3 may have formed in the Solar System’s first 10 million years.

    The meteorites from this collision fall into a category of space rocks called ureilites, which account for less than 1% of objects that collide with Earth.

    The researchers suggest all ureilite asteroids may be remnants of the same proto-planet.

    The team wrote: “Mars-sized bodies (such as the giant impactor that formed the Moon were common, and either accreted to form larger planets, or collided with the Sun or were ejected from the Solar System.

    View the original article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-43804585

    “This study provides convincing evidence that the ureilite parent body was one such large ‘lost’ planet before it was destroyed by collisons.”

    In the same category are

    Star Trek saga casts new Spock actor Ethan Peck Image copyright Getty Images/NBC Image caption Peck thanked Leonard Nimoy's family for their "warm welcome... and support" Three years on from Leo...
    Kabul suicide bomber kills 48 in tuition centre attack Image copyright EPA Image caption Teaching was under way when the bomb went off Forty-eight people have been killed and 67 injured in a bomb explo...
    Raheem Sterling: Silence over criticism is ‘shameful’, says Kick It Out chair Ian Wright says the media criticism of Raheem Sterling is 'tinged with racism'.There has been a "shameful silence" over ongoing criticism of Manchest...
    Six people injured by loose horse at Pembrokeshire Show At least six people have been knocked to the ground by a loose horse at the Pembrokeshire Show, according to an eyewitness. Medics are attending to pe...
    Amateur golfer hits three holes-in-one to defend club title – doubling her career total Ali Gibb said her scorecard consisted of "a nine, two eights, sixes, fives, fours, threes, twos and three ones"It's a moment that, if you are lucky, ...
    How Perrie from Little Mix is helping me learn to love my freckles Image copyright Getty Images / Daniela and Gianna Holmes Perrie Edwards has been praised after proudly showing off her freckles on social media. The...

    Leave a comment

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.