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Friday, April 20, 2018

A meteorite brought diamonds of a lost planet to Earth

Por Jade

On October 7, 2008, an asteroid entered the Earth's atmosphere and exploded at a height of 37 kilometers, over the Nubian desert in northern Sudan: it brought diamonds. A study by a team at the Federal Polytechnic School in the Swiss city of Lausanne (EPFL) published by the journal Nature Communications, concludes that the space rock was part of a lost planet that existed at the dawn of the Solar System.

It is estimated that the "protoplanet" to which it belonged must have existed billions of years ago, before it was broken by a collision. It was as big as Mercury or Mars. Scientists argue that the pressure needed to produce such diamonds could only occur on a large planet. The asteroid, called 2008 TC3, was just over four meters in diameter. About 50 pieces of that rock, between 1 and 10 centimeters in size, were collected.

The fragments are popularly known as parts of the meteorite Alamata Sitta, an Arabic term meaning Station Six, by the name of a train station near the place where it fell. Using three types of microscopes, the researchers characterized the mineral and chemical coverage of the rock. Some of the material trapped in the diamonds from its formation can only be formed at a pressure greater than 20 gigapascals, the scientists reported. These conditions "can only be achieved in a large planetary body," they said.

The researcher Farhang Nabiei, of the EPFL, said that these data constitute the "first convincing evidence of the existence of such a large planet", belonging to a first generation that has disappeared. This finding reinforces the theory that the planets of the current Solar System were forged with the remains of dozens of large "protoplanets" or "embryonic planets". They estimate that the main body of the 2008 TC3 was formed in the Solar System in its first 10 million years.

The meteorites of that collision were cataloged in the category of space rocks called ureilites, which represent less than 1% of the objects that collide with the Earth. The researchers suggest that all the ureilite asteroids are remnants of the same protoplanet. "Mars-sized bodies (like the one that impacted forming the Moon) were common and joined together to form larger planets or collided with the Sun or were ejected from the Solar System."This study provides convincing evidence that the main body of ureilite was one of those great 'lost planets' before they were destroyed by various collisions," the scientists concluded in the study.