The researchers studied the processes of diamond rain formation on planets such as Uranus and Neptune. They came to the conclusion that in the presence of oxygen, these processes go faster. It also forms “black hot ice”.
Diamond Rain on Ice Giants
The fact that on ice giants such as Uranus and Neptune, carbon in the atmosphere can turn into diamonds under pressure has been known for a long time. Then they are believed to gradually fall down in a rain of jewels. Scientists from the National Accelerator Laboratory of the US Department of Energy some time ago were even able to reproduce this process in the laboratory.
However, they also noticed that the conditions on the ice giants can be very different from the pure mixture of hydrogen and carbon that was used in the previous experiment. In particular, they suggested that the formation of diamond rains can be strongly influenced by oxygen.
PET bottles as raw materials for diamonds
This time, scientists used ordinary bottles of polyethylene terephthalate, better known as PET, as raw materials for obtaining precious stones. This material is very similar in the ratio of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen to the atmosphere of Neptune and Uranus. Scientists have used extremely powerful lasers to create shock waves that simulate the pressure on these planets.
Under their influence, PET completely collapsed and scientists used X-ray diffraction and small-angle scattering, they were able to find out what it turned into. It turned out that crystals of nanometric size diamonds were formed and even grew very slowly.
At the same time, it was proved that in the presence of oxygen atoms, this process can occur at a lower pressure than previously thought. That is, diamond rains can occur in a wide range of conditions. On planets like Neptune, where extreme pressure has not stopped for millions of years, the growth of diamonds continues constantly.
Industrial diamonds and “black hot ice”
Studies show that as diamonds grow, they gradually begin to sink into the dense atmosphere of the ice giants. Over billions of years, a thick layer of jewels should form around the core.
This result is fascinating, because now scientists are inclined to believe that it is the ice giants that are the most common in the universe. Until now, their structure has been described simply as a metal core surrounded by layers of liquid and gas.
Also, diamond rain from PET bottles has a purely terrestrial application. After all, these nanocrystals are valuable industrial raw materials that are used in many technological processes.
Finally, scientists came to the conclusion that superionic water can form together with diamonds. This exotic form of ice known as “black hot ice” has only recently been discovered. It exists at high pressure. Under these conditions, the molecules are completely destroyed, oxygen atoms form a crystal lattice, and hydrogen floats freely between them.
Superionic water is a good conductor of electric current. Any difference in potentials creates conditions for its occurrence. Therefore, the presence of this exotic substance may explain the existence of local magnetic fields observed on these planets.
According to phys.org
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