German scientists from the HZDR Institute together with colleagues from the US were able to recreate the conditions that are supposed to exist on such planets as Neptune. The conducted experiments showed that diamonds can be formed on such objects.
Scientists have used a high-power X-ray laser and other facilities at the SLAC research center in California. Specialists managed to observe for the first time the splitting of hydrocarbons and the transformation of carbon into diamonds in real time.
Inside such planets as Neptune and Uranus, consist of a solid core, “packed” in a thick layer of “ice” from hydrocarbons, water and ammonia. For a long time, astrophysicists have assumed that extreme pressure at a depth of more than 10,000 km contributes to the splitting of hydrocarbons and the formation of diamonds that go farther into the planet. However, up to the present time no one has ever been able to observe this process during the experiment.
During the experiments, specialists placed a special type of polymer – polystyrene, consisting of carbon and hydrogen – in conditions similar to those that exist inside Neptune and Uranus.
Scientists managed to “compact” the plastic, creating a pressure of about 150 gigapascals and a temperature of about 5 thousand degrees Celsius. As a result, researchers were able to obtain nanometer diamonds.
According to experts, on Neptune and Uranus diamonds are larger in size. They most likely fall down to the core for thousands of years.