Diamonds from ureilites formed inside the deceased proto-planet mesopodopsis
19 April, 2018, 01:46 | Author: Devin Moran
This means the rock that fell to Earth almost a decade ago was part of a "lost" planet formed - and completely destroyed - at the dawn of the solar system. Many researchers believe that the early inner solar system was crowded with large protoplanets that yanked and tugged at each other's orbits until they finally crashed, coalesced or disintegrated.
Meteorite hunters recovered about 50 fragments, which researchers later named the "Almahata Sitta" collection after a nearby train station in Sudan.
Using high-definition microscopy, researchers measured the composition of diamonds locked up in rocks left scattered in the Nubian desert of northern Sudan after the asteroid 2008 TC3 hit the atmosphere.
The diamonds in the meteorite have tiny crystals inside them and they required a large amount of pressure to form.
It is now thought they came from a mysterious planet that once circled the Sun billions of years ago.
While there are eight main planets orbiting the solar system, an worldwide team of scientists believes that perhaps there could have been another planet that could have ceased to exist at the time when the planets and the solar system itself were chaotically forming.
There are three formation models for ureilite: shock-driven transformation of carbon to diamond via high-speed impact; chemical vapour deposition inside the solar nebula; and static high-pressure inside a larger body, such as a protoplanet. They were riddled with tiny imperfections, called inclusions, made of chromite, phosphate and iron-nickel sulfides. Some collisions formed larger worlds, while others created systems of planets and satellites like the Earth and its moon. He plans to seek out similar meteorites and search them for inclusions that might provide clues about their origins. Students from the University of Khartoum volunteered to search for fragments, ultimately recovering more than 600 pieces of the meteorite now known as Almahata Sitta.
Diamond inclusions appear blue in this colorized scanning transmission electron microscope image of Almahata Sitta meteorite No. 15.
"What we're claiming here is that we have in our hands a remnant of this first generation of planets that are missing today because they were destroyed or incorporated in a bigger planet", Philippe Gillet, one of the co-authors of the work, told the Associated Press.
Ten years ago, an Arizona astronomer spotted an asteroid that was headed straight for Earth.
Such planetary embryos got ejected from the solar system and either became rogue planets or smashed together.
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