What do the first 10 million years of the solar system look like? These diamonds give a clue.
A little peek into our past reveals tantalizing details.
In 2008, an asteroid exploded 37km above ground across the Nubian desert of northern Sudan. The fragments contained both rock and rough diamonds.
What scientists have figured out since, after gathering about 50 pieces of what was left, is that it came from the first 10 million years of our solar system — from a planet around the size of Mars or Mercury that ultimately was destroyed.
Known as the Almahata Sitta meteorites, scientists used transmission electron microscopy and electron energy-loss spectroscopy to ascertain that the materials, including the diamonds, can only be formed above pressures of about 20 gigapascals (GPa). This only happens within a planetary body.
What they theorize is that the protoplanet these pieces ultimately came from likely collided with others in that first 10 million years, causing Almahata Sitta — and others — to float about the solar system until they, too, collided with another planetary body; in this case, Earth. Such items account for less than 1% of objects that collide with our planet.
From the study, published in Nature Communications:
“in the first million years of the solar system. Mars-sized bodies (such as the giant impactor that formed the Moon) were common, and either accreted to form larger planets, or collided with the Sun or were ejected from the solar system. This study provides convincing evidence that the ureilite parent body was one such large ‘lost’ planet before it was destroyed by collisions.”
Giving our solar system a "slap in the face."
- A stream of galactic debris is hurtling at us, pulling dark matter along with it
- It's traveling so quickly it's been described as a hurricane of dark matter
- Scientists are excited to set their particle detectors at the onslffaught
Two massive clouds of dust in orbit around the Earth have been discussed for years and finally proven to exist.
- Hungarian astronomers have proven the existence of two "pseudo-satellites" in orbit around the earth.
- These dust clouds were first discovered in the sixties, but are so difficult to spot that scientists have debated their existence since then.
- The findings may be used to decide where to put satellites in the future and will have to be considered when interplanetary space missions are undertaken.
Once again, our circadian rhythm points the way.
- Seven individuals were locked inside a windowless, internetless room for 37 days.
- While at rest, they burned 130 more calories at 5 p.m. than at 5 a.m.
- Morning time again shown not to be the best time to eat.
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