In ice giant planets, diamond rain may occur more frequently than previously thought.

Extreme conditions exist in the interiors of the ice giants Uranus and Neptune, which are located in the outer regions of the Solar System. Temperatures can reach hundreds of degrees Celsius, and the pressure is a million times more than that of the Earth’s atmosphere. These pressure and temperature settings can be replicated for a few nanoseconds by brief laser pulses directed against hydrocarbon films. Researchers employed this strategy in an earlier experiment, yielding nanodiamonds. While the ice giants have enormous oxygen reserves, hydrocarbon sheets only have hydrogen and carbon. The researchers discovered polyethylene terephthalate (PET), which is frequently used in packaging, fibres, and plastic bottles, while searching for a suitable film to utilise to replicate the circumstances of ice giants. PET provides a favourable equilibrium between carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen to imitate the activity on ice planets, according to physicist Dominik Kraus. The scientists discovered that they could create the nanodiamonds by flashing the PET container with powerful laser beams. The discoveries offer a method for producing nanodiamonds, which have uses in quantum electronics, medical sensors, and drug delivery. Nanodiamonds can be used for future sustainable manufacturing and to divide carbon dioxide. The results also corroborate theories that claim ice giants and other comparable exoplanets throughout the cosmos are literally covered in diamonds. Because there are only two ice giants in our own Solar System, they were once assumed to be rare, but exoplanet surveys have shown that they are really the most common sort of planet.

According to Kraus, the oxygen had the effect of accelerating the splitting of the carbon and hydrogen, which aided in the production of nanodiamonds.

It implied that diamonds could form more quickly from the combination of carbon atoms. It was examined using X-ray diffraction what happens when the laser hits the PET film. The material’s atoms organised themselves into diamond-shaped areas that were a few nanometers across. The diamond was able to develop at lower temperatures and pressures than previously noted because oxygen was present. Although they would weigh millions of carats, much larger diamonds would develop on Uranus and Neptune. The diamonds might form a ring of glitz around the planet’s rocky core over thousands of years. Water would disintegrate due to the extreme heat and pressure, with the oxygen atoms forming a crystal lattice and the electrically charged, free-floating hydrogen nuclei. The unique magnetic fields on Uranus and Neptune could be explained by the ability of superionic water to conduct electrical currents. “We know that the Earth’s core is primarily formed of iron, but numerous experiments are still looking into how the presence of lighter elements can influence the conditions of melting and phase transitions,” says researcher Silvia Pandolfi. Our investigation shows how these factors can alter the environment on ice giants where diamonds are growing. Get as near to the actual composition of the planetary interior as you can if you wish to accurately represent planets. The experiment will be repeated using ethanol, water, and ammonia, which are the main chemical components of ice giants. Science Advances has released a paper outlining the results.

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