There Is Evidence That a Planet in Our Solar System Was Destroyed

An artist's illustration of a protoplanet

The crashing of the meteorite was witnessed by many in the town of Wadi Halfa and at a railway stop in the Nubian desert, known as "Station Six".

The diamond meteorite appears to have originated on a protoplanet between the size of the moon and Mars that collided with other objects during the first 10 million years of the solar system and no longer exists as a whole, according to a statement about the recent study.

The Almahata Sitta meteorite exploded over the Nubian desert, in the northeast of Sudan, in 2008 and was quickly recovered by the University of Khartoum.

Was found after the explosion, the meteor was mainly composed of coarse-grained rocks (olivine and pyroxene), which could be formed in the mantle of "planet-Bud", and the concentration of carbon in them was unusually high.

Researchers from Switzerland, France, and Germany published a study in the journal Nature Communications showing that the Almahata Sitta contained tiny diamonds inside it. This particular set of diamonds were formed at 20 gigapascals - the entire weight of its home planet pushing down on it. The analysis of the data showed that the diamonds had chromite, phosphate, and iron-nickel sulfides embedded in them - what scientists refer to as "inclusions".

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"The particularly exciting thing is, [the researchers] have a really strong case with the pressures that they're measuring to say there really is no other way around the fact that this had to be a really big body present early in solar system history".

Using an advanced technology called transmission electron microscopy the scientists scanned some of the larger diamonds, which are only 100-microns wide - about the size of a human hair, notes Popular Science. And, according to a new study, these meteorite crystals provide the first physical evidence of an ancient lost building block from the dawn of the solar system.

A colorized image shows the diamond phase (blue), inclusions (yellow) and the graphite region.

If the researchers' interpretation of these diamonds is correct, however, this is the first such evidence. "For most diamonds on Earth, we can't tell where they came from based on the diamond itself, so instead we look at inclusions". This suggests that the diamonds formed deep in a body's interior and not on impact. One of the few places where that pressure can be found is inside of a planet, and based on the pressure, scientists estimated the unknown planet would have to be the size of Mars or Mercury.

To create these conditions, Nabiei said, the meteorite's parent body would have to have been a planet at least as big as Mercury and possibly as large as Mars.

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