This Diamond-Laced Meteorite Could Be From Earth's Long-Lost Planetary Sibling

Scientists say that under the meteorites' thick carbonized exterior hid diamonds which enclosed remnants of a long-lost planet or planetary embryo during the insane days of the early solar system. "We think that there were probably many larger "parent" bodies in the early solar system, which have since been destroyed, so a since-destroyed body the size of Mercury is reasonable", he says. Almahata Sitta is the first case in which meteorites have been recovered from a known asteroid that was tracked in space and during its subsequent collision with our planet. It was spotted by astronomers a few hours before its collision with the Earth in October 2008, which allowed scientists to observe its fall.

Gillet, a planetary scientist at the Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, said researchers calculated a pressure of 200,000 bar (2.9 million psi) would be needed to form such diamonds, suggesting the mystery planet was as least as big as Mercury, possibly even Mars. The Almahata Sitta comes from a mysterious embryonic planet which once circled the sun 4.5 billion years ago. Typically, these diamonds form in asteroids when they bang into other rocks in space, creating powerful shockwaves that roll through the orb conver some of its carbon into tiny diamonds, just millionths of a millimeter across.

Their analysis also revealed that the fragments contained chromite, phosphate, and iron-nickel sulfides, chemicals or "inclusions" that are commonly found in Earth-originated meteorites but were never observed in a space rock fragment before this.

Dr Nabiei added: "Planetary formation models show terrestrial planets are formed by the accretion of tens of Moon to Mars-sized planetary embryos through energetic giant impacts".

Weather Forecast For Sunday April 8
Western Montana will see rain showers, however we are not expecting the amounts of precipitation as locations in Idaho. Little to no accumulation is expected out of this, with any snow that does stick expected to stay under an inch.

The research was published online yesterday (April 17) in the journal Nature Communications. He plans to seek out similar meteorites and search them for inclusions that might provide clues about their origins. This particular set of diamonds were formed at 20 gigapascals - the entire weight of its home planet pushing down on it.

Using those tools, the researchers said, they could discover the conditions under which the diamonds inside the 2008 asteroid might have formed. Students from the University of Khartoum volunteered to search for fragments, ultimately recovering more than 600 pieces of the meteorite now known as Almahata Sitta.

Researchers from Switzerland, France and Germany examined a slice of a so-called Almahata Sitta meteorite which exploded over Sudan's Nubian Desert in 2008.

  • Douglas Reid