The mystery behind the diamonds that fell from the sky in Sudan, a country in Northeast Africa, has been solved by scientists. A study published in Nature Communications revealed that this strange phenomenon indicates the existence of a missing planet in the Solar System.
According to AFP, European researchers explained that the asteroid that partially disintegrated in Earth's atmosphere, causing the collapse of fragments containing diamonds on the ground in Sudan, came from the embryo of a missing "protoplanet" in the Solar System.
They believe that the missing planet was the size of Mars or Mercury and was formed in the first 10 million years of the Solar System's life. Eventually, the mysterious "protoplanet" was destroyed by collisions with other celestial bodies.
Solving the Puzzle
Astronomers spotted the asteroid - which they eventually named 2008 TC3 or Almahata Sitta - a few hours before the collision with Earth in October 2008, which allowed scientists to observe its collapse on our planet. The asteroid was the size of a car, weighing 80,000 kilograms.
Using an electron microscopy technique, the researchers studied the composition of the diamonds contained in the telluric fragments that scattered after the asteroid explosion over the Nubian desert, in northern Sudan.
According to asima.seti.org, never before have meteorites been recovered from something exploding this high in the atmosphere. Sure enough, this turns out to be a very unusual meteorite. It is an anomalous polymict ureilite. By comparing the reflection properties of the meteorite with those of the asteroid in space, we were able to conclude that this was an F-class asteroid.
So, the Almahata Sitta meteorite belongs to a category of rare rocks which represent less than 1% of all celestial objects that have fallen on Earth. They often have a high concentration of carbon, in the form of graphite and diamond.
The Missing "Protoplanet"
After analyzing the data, researchers concluded that these precious gemstones formed at high pressures (over 20 Gigapascals), indicating that the protoplanet should have been between Mars and Mercury.
Mars (3,390 kilometers) and Mercury (2,240 kilometers) are the smallest planets in the Solar System, which formed about 4.6 billion years ago.
The authors of the study claimed that these analyzes "provide convincing evidence" that the asteroid comes from a "missing planet," which was then destroyed by collisions with other celestial bodies.
Scientists believe that the discovery reinforces the theory that the current planets of the Solar System formed from the remains of several dozen large "protoplanets".