Diamond rain might sound like the stuff of poetry, but deep within the ice giants of our solar system it is thought to be reality – and now scientists say they have recreated the phenomenon.
The furthest flung true planets of our solar system, the ice giants Neptune and Uranus, are about 17 and 15 times the mass of Earth respectively.
While both have solid cores and atmospheres rich in gases including hydrogen and helium, the planets are largely made up a huge, slushy ocean of water, ammonia and substances known as hydrocarbons – molecules, such as methane, that are composed of hydrogen and carbon.
But researchers have long theorised that deep within these vast, blue planets something astonishing occurs: high temperatures and pressures act on the hydrocarbons deep in the oceans to produce diamonds that rain down, falling towards the planets’ interiors.
Of course, this is the best song for our progeny who get to Neptune in the distant future.