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Diamonds Trapped in Strange Meteorite Came From Solar System's Earliest Planets

Diamonds Trapped in Strange Meteorite Came From Solar System's Earliest Planets

A new study suggests that the diamonds found within a meteorite that fell in the Nubian Desert in 2008 were part of an early lost planet in our solar system.

"Mars-sized bodies (such as the giant impactor that formed the Moon) were common [in the early solar system], and either accreted to form larger planets, or collided with the Sun or were ejected from the solar system".

A transmission electron microscopy (TEM) image of a deformed diamond matrix in Almahata Sitta MS-170 meteorite. It was spotted by astronomers a few hours before its collision with the Earth in October 2008, which allowed scientists to observe its fall.

Scientists believe most diamond-studded fragments like these form in various ways - shockwaves from the collision between parent body of the meteorite and other space objects, chemical vapor deposits or the pressure inside the parent body, just like diamonds on Earth.

The diamonds we're familiar with are formed when sheets of carbon called graphite - the same material in pencil lead - are squeezed to incredible pressures.

"The analysis of the data showed that the diamonds had chromite, phosphate, and iron-nickel sulfides embedded in them - what scientists refer to as "inclusions", EPFL explained in a news release. The study shows that the parent body from which the meteorite came was a planetary embryo of a size between Mercury to Mars.

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"It is the first time that we found inclusions in extraterrestrial diamonds", Dr Nabiei said.

Orality Almahata Sitta formed in the explosion of an asteroid EC3 and crashed into Northern Sudan in the Nubian desert ten years ago.

Researchers from France, Germany and Switzerland, headed by Farhang Nabei, of the Earth Science Laboratory and Planets of the Swiss Institute of Physics of the Swiss Federal School of Lausanne (EPFL), who published the publication in Nature Communications, used modern scientific methods and electronic microscopes to analyze in depth the meteorite. However, scientists chose to volunteer and search for fragments that came from the asteroid, and they were able to collect more than 600 pieces of the meteorite.

Many planetary formation models have predicted that these planetary embryos existed in the first million years of our solar system, and the study offers compelling evidence for their existence.

These meteorites-referred to as Almahata Sitta-belong to a rare type, known as ureilites-rocky meteorites with a unique mineralogical composition that contain diamonds.

Nanodiamonds can form from "normal" static pressure inside a large parent body like Earth, but there are other origin theories as well.

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