Diamond Rain?

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Scientists are exploring the idea that diamonds rain down from the skies on Saturn and Jupiter. Methane exists in abundance in the atmospheres of these planets, and lighting storms turn this methane into soot (which is pure carbon). As the soot falls toward the planet’s surface, it hardens under intense pressures and forms small diamonds about one centimeter wide. These are not cut diamonds, of course, so the sky wouldn’t be glimmering like in the photo above, but the size of the stones are still impressive. Dr. Kevin Baines of the University of Wisconsin-Madison theorizes that about 1,000 tons of diamonds are rained down onto the surface of Saturn every year. As the diamonds fall from the atmosphere (over two and a half spans of the Earth), the diamonds are exposed to such high temperatures and pressures, they turn to liquid carbon. In contrast, other planets that allow for the possibility of diamond rain like Uranus, would be able to maintain the diamonds in solid form; their surface temperatures are much lower than Saturn and Jupiter’s. BBC “Diamond Rain Falls on Saturn and Jupiter”

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One thought on “Diamond Rain?

  1. What a cool thought! So, the diamond rain on Uranus does not heat up and once the diamonds fall to the surface, they remain in solid form? Will its atmosphere eventually dwindle to nothing as the surface becomes full of diamonds? Maybe the planet could have had a much larger atmosphere and it kept raining diamonds for millions of years. If the surface of Uranus is full of diamonds, at least it would have something going for it and might get a second look! Either way, I think it would hurt to be hit by the hardest object on Earth falling from the sky.

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