Distant Worlds With 'Diamond Rain' May Populate The Universe, Scientists Say


 Artist's impression of diamond rain formation. (Greg Stewart/SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory)

It could be raining diamonds on planets throughout the Universe, scientists suggested Friday, after making use of common plastic to recreate the strange precipitation believed to form deep inside Uranus and Neptune. 

Scientists had previously theorized that too much high pressure and temperatures convert hydrogen and carbon into solid diamonds thousands of kilometers below the surface of the ice giants. 

Ice giants like Neptune and Uranus are thought to be the most common type of planet outside our Solar System, which means diamond rain could be falling across the Universe. 

Dominik Kraus, a senior physicist at Germany's HZDR research lab and one of the study's authors, said that the diamond precipitation was a bit different to rain on Earth.


Under the surface of the planets is anticipated to be a "hot, dense liquid", where the diamonds create and slowly sink down to the rocky, potentially Earth-size cores more than 10,000 kilometers (6,200 miles) below, he said. 

The fallen diamonds could create vast layers that extent "hundreds of kilometers or even more", Kraus told AFP. 

While these diamonds might not be smooth and cut like a "a nice gem on a ring", he said they were formed via almost identical forces as on Earth. 

Aiming to duplicate the process, the research team found the necessary mix of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen in already available source – PET plastic, which is utilize for everyday food packaging and bottles. 

The team then converted a high-powered optical laser on the plastic at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in California. 

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