Saturn and Jupiter Atmospheres Produce Diamond Rain

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Diamond Rain on Saturn and Jupiter

Scientists say Saturn and Jupiter have solid diamonds scattered deep inside their depths. While planetary experts have long thought that Uranus and Neptune have diamonds, they never thought Saturn and Jupiter had the right atmosphere for the treasure.

This is all based on theory and modeling. No spacecraft has detected diamonds, photographed them or collected them.

Their research was presented Wednesday at the American Astronomical Society Division for Planetary Sciences conference in Denver.

Scientists say only the outer parts of the planets would contain solid diamonds. Once you reach closer to the planets’ core, temperatures are so high that the diamonds would melt into liquid. Which could lead to diamond “rain,” and form small pools of molten diamond. On Neptune and Uranus, with their lower temperatures, this mean that diamonds stay solid.

These planets are all made of gas, so their depths are very hot, pressurized gas. Carbon would be soot in the top part of Saturn’s atmosphere, but as it falls, it would turn into graphite at around 2,000 degrees Kelvin (3,140 degrees F). Closer to the planet’s core, at around 3,000 Kelvin (4,940 F), it would become diamond. “It’s so far down that we cannot observe that region of the atmosphere with spacecraft,” Delitsky said.

Although it is still a mysterious process, scientists think that, on Earth, diamonds form naturally when carbon is buried about 100 miles (160 kilometers) below the surface. The future diamond then needs to be heated to approximately 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit (1093 degrees Celsius) and squeezed under pressure of around 725,000 pounds per square inch. Space reports, it also needs to quickly move to the Earth’s surface — usually catching a ride with some fast-moving magma — to cool down.

“They would be diamonds like we have here, except they would probably be a little more dense,” Delitsky said. “They would probably be the same translucent gem that we’re all familiar with.”

“We don’t want to give people the impression that we have a Titanic-sized diamondberg floating around,” says planetary scientist Mona Delitsky of California Specialty Engineering, a consulting firm. “We’re thinking they’re more like something you can hold in your hand.”

The biggest diamonds would likely be about a centimetre in diameter – “big enough to put on a ring, although of course they would be uncut,” says Dr Kevin Baines, of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

“This kind of study shows that we are still far from understanding the composition and structure of Jupiter and Saturn, two planets which are respectively about 300 and 100 times the mass of our Earth and were crucial players when the whole Solar System formed,” said Tristan Guillot, planetary researcher at the Observatoire de la Cote d’Azur in France, in an e-mail to CNN.

Raining Diamonds on Jupiter and Saturn

According to their research, two scientists believe that both Saturn and Jupiter could be packed full of diamonds.

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