Earth and the entire Solar system carry a significant abundance of precious stones and metals. The history of human’s lust for these stones is as old as the earth itself. Earth has embedded in its crust some precious rock of billions of worth. Some of these precious stones are diamonds, black opal, ruby, emerald, red beryl, alexandrite, etc. Therefore, humans have been searching for them since the beginning of the earth. However, the most exorbitant gemstone that has gathered the spectators’ attention is the diamond.

Diamond is the hardest substance that occurs naturally in our environment. Carbon is the primary element that contributes to the formation of diamonds. However, it is quite amusing that the same element that forms coal also produces diamonds. Carbon forms a tetrahedral structure in the diamond. Due to this compact structure, diamond is the hardest known substance.

Diamonds occur naturally on the Earth. It requires millions of years for production. However, scientists are trying to produce it by artificial means. According to Wendy Mao, suitable temperatures and conditions can pave the way for lab-grown diamonds. By using this technology, one can grow diamonds in a lab by providing adequate conditions.

Is outer space a treasure chest of diamonds?

The quest for diamonds is not restricted to the planet earth. Scientists have explored some potential planets in outer space, bearing gemstones’ treasures. According to the latest research, many planets are home to many precious stones. On Neptune and Uranus, there is evidence of the diamond’s rain. Space scientists have detected these cascades of diamonds falling from the sky. Furthermore, Mars hints at the presence of Opal. Space scientists have predicted that there might be an abundance of these gemstones outside the solar system.

In 2012, scientists made an astonishing announcement. They discovered that the planet 55 Cancri e was made of diamonds. Moreover, they claimed that the planet contained graphite and other valuable minerals. The planet’s host star, 55 Cancri A is a star in our Milky Way Galaxy. Scientists claimed that carbon, iron, silicon carbide, and potentially silicates are abundant there.

55 Cancri e - planet made of diamonds
This artist’s impression shows the super-Earth 55 Cancri e in front of its parent star. Using observations made with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and new analytic software scientists were able to analyze the composition of its atmosphere. It was the first time this was possible for a super-Earth. 55 Cancri e is about 40 light-years away and orbits a star slightly smaller, cooler, and less bright than our Sun. As the planet is so close to its parent star, one year lasts only 18 hours, and temperatures on the surface are thought to reach around 2000 degrees Celsius. Image by ESA/Hubble, CC BY 4.0, Link

They named that planet a Super-Earth as its chemical composition is similar to Earth. Unlike Earth, it has a rich supply of carbon that ultimately forms diamonds. The 55 Cncri e lies approximately 40 light-years from Earth. Researchers have high hope that they will follow up the investigation for procuring more evidence.

However, later on, Roger Clark challenged that discovery. Roger Clark is a senior scientist at the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson. He concluded that the scientists had used the wrong techniques for calculation. They initially predetermined the size and mass of that particular planet. Afterward, they estimated the density by using the previous information. In this way, they had inferred the existence of diamonds. According to Roger Clark, this proof is not adequate to confirm the presence of diamonds. However, this discovery has led to many different speculations. Scientists are assuming that outer space has the potential of having gemstones. The quest for diamonds has induced humans to seek alternatives.

Some unofficial discoveries

Since the evolution of space technology, scientists have been after diamonds’ quest. They are trying to find any hint that could lead them to diamonds in outer space. It is a precious stone and everyone desires it. However, it takes millions of years for the production of one ounce of the diamond. That’s why it is rare in nature. Scientists are using various technologies to detect any presence of diamonds. Different leading multinational companies and billionaires are financing such projects. Decades back, many scientists had discovered traces of diamonds in space.

In 1987, scientists identified nanodiamonds inside a meteorite. After some investigations, researchers found gasses and minerals and revealed the age of nanodiamonds. Scientists found that some planets might be a hub for the production of those nanodiamonds. Similarly, scientists made another astonishing discovery in 1886. That happened when a ureilite meteorite hit a village. After a thorough investigation, scientists had seen diamonds in a meteorite. The researchers claimed that a planetary body had nurtured those diamonds According to 2006 statistics, Australia was at the top of diamond production.

Synthesis of diamonds

Diamonds naturally occur in our environment. Carbon is mainly responsible for the production of diamonds. There are four important resources for the production of diamonds.

  • Geologists have identified that most diamonds occur in the Earth’s mantle. The excessive pressure and temperature lead to the formation of diamonds. However, during a volcanic eruption, these diamonds reach the outer surface of the earth. In the Earth’s mantle, the high heat and pressure turn carbon into diamonds. However, it is not a one-day procedure. It requires millions of years for its production.
  • Some rocks also contain these tiny diamonds. Through the plate tectonic process, the mantle transfers these diamonds to the upper surface. Later, they embed deep into the rocks.
  • Meteorites have been bombarding the Earth since its creation. These meteorites exert adequate heat and pressure necessary for the production of diamonds. Many researchers have found the formation of diamonds at the impaction site. Hence, these impactions and strikes are significant in the formation of diamonds.
  • Furthermore, these meteorites also contain diamonds. That presents strong evidence that many planets bear an adequate amount of diamonds.

Scientists believe that the formation of diamonds requires approximately 1 to 3 billion years. Certain physical conditions are mandatory for its production. Diamonds require 2200 degrees Fahrenheit and a pressure of 727,2000 pounds per square inch. Hence, this process is time taking. That’s why scientists have chosen a lab-based technique for its formation.

According to this latest advancement, they will provide certain conditions for the production of diamonds. This man-made diamond utilizes cutting-edge technology to imitate a natural diamond. By providing similar physical conditions, scientists are successful in growing a man-made diamond. That diamond possesses similar physical and chemical properties. However, many people believe that these diamonds are fake. Therefore, the manufacturers are trying to bring it into the market.

Conclusion

According to recent advancements, scientists have announced 55 Cancri e as a diamond planet. They have found evidence that supports their claims. This Super-Earth planet has some characteristics and features similar to Earth. Scientists assume that it has an abundant supply of carbon. The existence of carbon makes this planet ideal for diamond occurrence. However, they are seeking better evidence to support their claim.

M. Özgür Nevres

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