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It's raining diamonds on two planets in our solar system

It's raining diamonds on two planets in our solar system

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In the interior of gaseous planets such as Neptune, a diamond rain of carbon compounds forms, affecting magnetic fields. © Knut Niehus/Imago

Diamond rain occurs inside gaseous planets in our solar system. Researchers have now discovered that it can also generate magnetic fields.

Munich – an international research team from Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) In California, I gained new insights into the formation of diamond rain on planets in our solar system. Scientists have the data in the specialized journal Nature astronomy published. The results should also provide evidence of the formation of complex magnetic fields. These magnetic fields can act as a kind of protective shield for the planets.

Diamond rain on gaseous planets is much higher than expected

In previous work, scientists have already discovered that diamonds are formed from carbon compounds in the interior of large gas planets such as Neptune and Uranus due to the pressure there, as the European XFEL research facility in Hamburg did in one of the research. press release to explain. Then these elements will sink further into the planet in the form of rain of gems from the upper layers.

Twelve countries participate in the X-ray laser research facility, which is a close partner of the German Electron Synchrotron (DESY). A new SLAC experiment at XFEL has now shown that the formation of diamonds from carbon compounds begins at much lower pressures and temperatures than previously assumed.

Diamond rain on Uranus and Neptune affects magnetic fields

For gaseous planets in the solar system such as Uranus and Neptune, this means that diamond rain forms at a shallower depth and can therefore have a greater effect on the formation of magnetic fields. This process is also possible on much smaller gaseous planets called “mini-Neptunes.” Although there are no such planets in our solar system, they appear as exoplanets outside the solar system. The white dwarf star will actually evolve into a cosmic diamond.

According to the study, diamond rain could carry gas and ice with it on its way into the interior of the planet, causing streams of conductive ice. That would act as a kind of dynamo, which could create magnetic fields. “Diamond rain likely influenced the formation of the complex magnetic fields of Uranus and Neptune,” explains lead researcher Mungo Frost. Only recently have researchers gathered new insights into Uranus.

For the research, the team chose a process similar to what happens inside the planet. The researchers generated the high pressure and temperature of more than 2,200 degrees Celsius found inside cold gas planets using diamond anvil cells and lasers.

In addition to SLAC scientists, the international research team also includes researchers from the European XFEL, DESY and the Helmholtz Center in Dresden as well as researchers from other research institutions and universities.