11 months ago
Scientists have discovered the first hard evidence of a large and ancient protoplanet inside space diamonds that fell to Earth about 10 years ago. The diamonds were embedded inside a small asteroid that hit the atmosphere over the Nubian Desert in northeastern Sudan in October 2008. The diamonds are extremely small, about the width of a human hair, reports The Los Angeles Times, but within them are chemical clues that suggest they could have only been formed deep within a Mercury- or Mars-sized almost-planet that formed in the hectic early days of the solar system.
“What makes this study so exciting is that it is direct evidence from an actual rock that there was a large protoplanetary body that is no longer around,” said Meenakshi Wadhwa, who studies meteorites at Arizona State University and who was not involved in the new work, to The LA Times.
The research team, led by Farhang Nabiei of the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne in Switzerland, used a high-powered electron microscope to study the tiny diamonds found inside the meteorite.