It’s Raining…Diamonds

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Marilyn Monroe would have probably liked to visit Neptune or Uranus.

In 1953, the late actress famously sang, “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend.” On these two planets, she’d have had all the gems she would want.

That’s because scientists believe that on Neptune and Uranus it rains diamonds.

Researchers say that although the “rain” isn’t visible, they noted that extreme pressures on the two gas giants would compress elements such as hydrogen and carbon to form solid diamonds that then fall through the atmosphere like rain.

On Earth, scientists recently tried to replicate that process and managed to convert simple plastics into tiny diamonds, according to New Atlas.

In their experiments, a research team blasted samples of PET – the common material used in plastic bottles – with the world’s most powerful X-ray laser, the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS).

Through the LCLS, they were able to heat the material to temperatures of up to 10,800 degrees Fahrenheit and generate powerful pressure.

The final result was the creation of “nanodiamonds” with densities of up to 3.87 grams per cubic centimeter.

In a 2017 study, another team recreated the process in a lab by blasting LCLS at samples of hydrocarbon materials, such as polystyrene.

While that experiment was a success, the materials they used didn’t accurately simulate elements present in the interiors of these ice giants: Polystyrene lacks oxygen, which is present in the interiors of the planets.

But in the new study, PET has a good balance between carbon, hydrogen and oxygen, allowing the new authors to properly recreate the expensive rain.

According to the new study team, the discoveries also show a new production procedure for these small diamonds, which are employed in industrial abrasives, polishing agents, and maybe, one day, incredibly sensitive quantum sensors.

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