Diamonds, the saying goes, are a girl's best friend and Jupiter and Saturn
just might be filled to the brim with them, scientists say.
Chunks of diamonds may be floating in hydrogen and helium fluid deep in the
atmospheres of Saturn and Jupiter. What's more, at even lower depths, the extreme
pressure and temperature can melt the precious gem, literally making it rain
liquid diamond, researchers said.
"The new data available has confirmed that at depth, diamonds may be floating
around inside of Saturn, some growing so large that they could perhaps be called
'diamondbergs,'" officials from California Specialty Engineering in Pasadena,
Calif., wrote in a statement announcing the discovery today (Oct. 9). Planetary
scientists Mona Delitsky of CSE and Kevin Baines of the University of
Wisconsin-Madison conducted the research. [Amazing photos of monster storm in Saturn's atmosphere]
Diamonds can form when elemental carbon, like graphite or soot created by
huge lightning storms on Saturn, falls into the deep atmosphere of the planet
where it is crushed into the gem, Baines and Delitsky said. Those solid diamonds then move farther into the depths of the planet,
where they turn into a liquid near the core.
Scientists have known that stable diamonds may exist in the relatively chilly
cores of Neptune and Uranus, but until now, Jupiter and Saturn were thought too
hot to allow for solid, stable diamond formation.