Billions of tonnes of diamonds in the galaxy suspected
Giant terrestrial planets also know as “Carbon super-Earths” that contain up to 50 per cent diamond may possibly be in the Earth’s galaxy, a new study suggests. But if they exist, those planets are unlikely to have any sort of life and incapable of supporting it.
The finding comes from a laboratory experiment at Ohio State University, where researchers recreated the temperatures and pressures of Earth’s lower mantle to study how diamonds form there, the Space.com portal reported.
Project’s chief scientist Wendy Panero, an associate professor in the School of Earth Sciences at OhioState and doctoral student Cayman Unterborn, used what they learned from the experiments to construct computer models of the minerals that form in planets composed with more carbon than Earth.
“Our results are striking, in that they suggest carbon-rich planets can form with a core and a mantle, just as Earth did,” Panero said. “However, the cores would likely be very carbon-rich – much like steel – and the mantle would also be dominated by carbon, much in the form of diamond.”
Diamonds are an excellent element for transferring heat, so a carbon super-Earth’s interior would quickly freeze as all its heat escaped. That is why Panero said that a diamond planet “must be a very cold, dark place.”
Only yesterday Mining.com reported that some diamonds producers are fretting that the difficulties in securing new diamonds supply – only about 1 percent of kimberlite pipes discovered to date have been economically viable – could make the price of the gem too high, forcing consumers to look at alternatives.