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New Technique for Finding Space Diamonds

Article written: 26 Feb , 2008
Updated: 26 Dec , 2015
by

When researchers examine meteorites, they often find them sprinkled with teeny tiny diamonds – 25,000 times smaller than a grain of sand. In fact, these nanodiamonds make up 3% of the carbon found in meteorites. Astronomers think diamonds might actually be common out there in the Universe, and they’ve developed a new technique to find them.

The first hint of space diamonds came in the 1980s, when scientists studying meteorites discovered they were sprinkled with nanometer-sized diamonds. This has to be an indication of the environment of the stellar environment where the meteorites formed. There could be 10,000 trillion particles in a single gram of dust and gas.

Researchers at NASA’s Ames Research Center developed a computer simulation that simulated the conditions of the interstellar medium that would be rich in nanodiamonds. According to their simulation, clouds with these particles should be visible to NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope.

The diamonds haven’t been seen in space because astronomers haven’t been looking in the right places. Since it takes a lot of high-energy ultraviolet light to make the diamonds shine, the researchers think Spitzer should be examining the environments around very hot, young stars, which produce large amounts of ultraviolet radiation.

Here on Earth, diamonds are formed by the intense heat and pressure of the Earth’s interior working over long periods. So how can they form in space? Instead of the heat and pressure we have on Earth, their environment is the exact opposite: diffuse clouds of cold molecular gas.

Astronomers aren’t sure, but now that they’ve got a technique to spot them with Spitzer, they’ll be studying gas clouds to understand the common conditions.

Original Source: NASA/Spitzer News Release


9 Responses

  1. Tim Hogle says

    Beatles were right, “Lucy in the sky with…………….”

  2. Johnny Blues says

    Where there’s lil ones, there’s bigguns.

  3. Peter K says

    Why?

    Why are we interested in space diamonds? Two small to appreciate on a ring. To small to even coat a drill bit. Is this just for poops and giggles? Is there a point?

  4. earsz says

    An idea for a sci-fi game or story: Mining the cosmos for diamonds. Besides, didn’t someone recently discover that so-called black or carbonado diamonds found in Brazil and Central Africa came from space? And, speaking of “bigguns,” how about that recently discovered old star’s heart that is totally a diamond (actually, a crystallised white dwarf)? All we need now are some pirates …

  5. Bob says

    Being the fourth most abundant element in the universe by weight, I’m sure the universe is rife with them of all sizes.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon

    I wouldn’t think “mining the cosmos” would be profitable, though.
    They are expensive to purchase on Earth only because of unscrupulous marketing techniques.

  6. Bob says

    An afterthought:

    Something rarer found in meteorites, now available man-made, and cheaper than diamonds; Moissanite!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moissanite

  7. Bob says

    Where does that come from, PETER PAN? (the name you picked is revealing about yourself, admit it, or not)

  8. Mrs.Black says

    i love diamonds and my class does to but ,me wowo its awesome will you send some pictures

  9. JD Moore says

    i have perfected a divice that will pinpoint space diamonds on earth who would be interested ?

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