Popular Science

These diamonds are tiny, flawed, and may come from a long-lost planet

The early solar system was a wild, world-destroying place.
planet nursery

An artist's impression of an early star system where planets are still forming.

University of Copenhagen/Lars Buchhave

In 2008, a rock laced with tiny diamonds hurtled through miles of thickening nitrogen, oxygen, and carbon dioxide, its exterior heating up as it raced through the thick air. A telescope tracked its progress, watching as the asteroid-turned-meteor exploded. The violent burst 23 miles above the ground sent fragments speeding toward their resting place, dark against the sands of the Nubian desert in Sudan.

The explosion and crash were just the latest of eons of indignities, from a high pressure beginning in a promising planetary start up, to a cataclysmic failure, to billions of years of aimless wandering around the solar system.

A published in today offers a dramatic origin story for the meteorite. Based on materials found inside the diamonds nestled within, researchers think this may be the remnant of a long-lost planet or planetary embryo; one that was still in its infancy when the chaos of the early solar system obliterated

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