A new American experiment has shown that there are potentially trillions of planets in the universe that are primarily composed of diamonds.
A star and its associated planets are formed by the same interstellar gas clouds and will therefore consist of essentially the same substances.
The sun, for example, has a low carbon-to-oxygen ratio, and this is reflected in the Earth’s composition.
The earth’s crust consists mostly of
- silica – the most abundant mineral in the earth’s crust and
- oxides – chemical compounds that contain oxygen
But elsewhere in the universe, where the stars have a higher carbon / oxygen ratio than the Sun, carbon-rich planets will appear, which are thought to have nuclei consisting of the substance silicon carbide.
If these planets are exposed to the right heat and high enough pressure, and if there is water present, there is a good chance that they will be transformed to consist primarily of diamond and silicon dioxide, just as our planet consists primarily of rock species.
“There are about 100 billion planets in our galaxy, and 100 billion galaxies in the universe,” Harrison Allen-Sutter, the lead researcher on the project, said in a press release from ASU.
“Even if diamond planets are only found on a scale of 1-to-1 billion, the near-intangible gigantic size of the universe means that up to several trillion diamond planets can be found.”
The researchers from ASU simulated the conditions of the formation of these carbon planets by first immersing a piece of silicon carbide in some water, then pressing it together in a diamond-stamp press and then finally heating it with a powerful laser beam.
Quite as expected, they converted the silicon carbide to diamond and silicon dioxide, the same composition as a potential diamond planet.
However, one should not use gunpowder to look for life on such planets.
They will simply be too hard to be geologically active and will therefore not have life-giving atmospheres, which will instead consist primarily of methane.