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Uranus is home to massive quantities of diamond. Image Credit: NASA
The gas giant is home to one of the most remarkable weather events found anywhere in the solar system.
Scientists had long suspected that the immense pressures found in the atmosphere of Uranus could give rise to diamond rain, but confirming this to be the case has always proven notoriously difficult.
Now though, researchers at Stanford University’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory have succeeded in simulating the conditions on Uranus and have actually managed to observe this remarkable weather phenomenon for themselves.
“Previously, researchers could only assume that the diamonds had formed,” said lead author Dominik Kraus from the German Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf research laboratory. “When I saw the results of this latest experiment, it was one of the best moments of my scientific career.”
While the diamonds observed during the experiment were really small, on Uranus it is likely that the diamonds falling from the sky are gigantic – up to a few million carats in size.
After falling, these diamonds will either melt down in to a sea of molten diamond or remain solid and combine to form a layer of diamond around the core.