Is It True: That It Rains Diamonds On Jupiter And Saturn?

Posted on August 28, 2016 in Columns, Is It True, Staff Picks

By Writu Bose:

“How cheap would diamonds be if they were raining!” was the first thing that struck me. But too bad, because it is not the Earth we are talking about. Nevertheless, it is apparently raining diamonds on Jupiter and Saturn, right now, as you’re reading it.

It sounds crazy, right? Because here on Earth, it’s much more complicated than that! It literally takes billions of years for carbon atoms to bond together and start shaping up as crystals. And all this happens 100 miles beneath earth’s layers.

But, for Jupiter and Saturn, is it really true or it’s a zany piece of pun that’s gone viral?

Well, recently, researchers have analysed the pressures and temperatures of both the gas-giant planets’ atmospheres to figure out how carbon atoms would behave there. And turns out, that ‘diamond-rain’ is quite likely!

Here’s what happens (or so say the science people!). Jupiter and Saturn comprise a massive amount of methane gas in their atmospheres, which when struck by lightning, turns into ‘soot’. Now, when soot falls from upper atmosphere, the intense pressure of gas combined with crazy proportions of heat, turn it into super precious stones.

Dr. Kevin Baines, of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, stated that “Once you get down to those extreme depths, the pressure and temperature is so hellish, there’s no way the diamonds could remain solid.” Hence, the melt-down near the core, resulting in the dramatic ‘rain’. Get the picture now?

But not having been there, how can we be so sure of it? Because, “It all boils down to the chemistry. And we think we’re pretty certain,” asserted Dr. Baines, also adding the fact that one thousand tonnes of diamonds are being created on Saturn, every single year!

That makes me think! Such magnitude of raining diamonds can only turn these precious stones into a not-so-precious menace. At the same time, I cannot stop grinning while imagining, what it would be like if, science aside, diamonds started raining on earth, and in fair proportions!


Banner image source: looser/ 4 images/ Pixabay