Could Exoplanets Be Made of Diamond and Rock? New Research Explains

Myriad Exoplanets in Our Galaxy Could Be Made of Diamond And Rock

In our Solar System, there is quite an intriguing variety of planets. They are, however, limited by the composition of the Sun. 

Since the moons, asteroids, planets, and other cosmic features are made out of what remained after the Sun was finished evolving, their chemistry is believed to be related to our host. 

But not all space objects are made out of the same things as our Sun. We might find some exoplanets very different from those in our little Solar System. 

New research suggests such a thing could be possible and offers some incredible insights. Here is what you need to know. 

Exoplanets Made of Diamond and Rock Might Exist

A team of scientists has squished and heated silicon carbide to determine if diamond and rock exoplanets could be possible. But, it all started with an idea.

That idea involves that the stars with a higher carbon-to-oxygen ratio than the Sun might create diamond planets. 55 Cancri e, for instance, is a super-Earth exoplanet that orbits a carbon-rich star. 

Between 12 % and 17 % of planetary systems could be situated around carbon-rich stars. And with so many exoplanet-hosting stars discovered so far, a diamond planet seems a distinct possibility.

Scientists have already studied and confirmed the idea that such planets could be composed mainly of carbides (compounds of carbon and other elements). If such a planet was rich in silicon carbide, and if water was present to oxidize the silicon carbide and turn it into silicon and carbon, the carbon could become an incredible diamond with enough pressure and heat. 

The Team’s Work and Results

To confirm that hypothesis, the team turned to a diamond anvil cell, a tool utilized to squeeze small material samples to very high pressures. The scientists took samples of silicon carbide and dipped in water. The samples were then put in the diamond anvil cell, which squeezed them to pressures up to 50 gigapascals – approximately half a million times Earth’s atmospheric pressure at sea level. 

Finally, after the samples had been squeezed, the scientists heated them with lasers. Geophysicist Harrison Allen-Sutter said: “These exoplanets are unlike anything in our Solar System.”

The team concluded that at temperatures of 2,500 Kelvin and pressures of 50 gigapascals, the silicon carbide planets might become oxidized in the presence of water, with compositions dominated by silica and diamond. 

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