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Does It Rain Diamonds on Jupiter?

Some scientists claim it may be possible to have rainfalls of diamonds on Jupiter.

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Jupiter is the largest planet in the Solar System and is the fifth planet from the Sun. It has a mass that is one-thousandth that of the Sun, but approximately 2.5 times greater than the combined mass of all other planets in the Solar System. The planet was named after the Roman god Jupiter, who is the god of the skies and thunder. Jupiter has an oblate spheroid shape because of its rapid rotation, and also lacks a well-defined solid surface. The planet has been explored multiple times by robotic spacecraft. Jupiter, as well as Saturn, is classified as a gas giant, given that the planet is composed primarily of gas, namely helium and hydrogen. Although Jupiter is mainly composed of hydrogen (88-92%) and helium (8-12%), it occasionally rains diamonds.

Diamonds on Jupiter

A 2013 study conducted by researchers at NASA’s Southern California Jet Propulsion Lab reported that hundreds of tons of diamonds are formed every year in Saturn's atmosphere. One of the scientists, Kevin Baines, concluded that the presence of diamonds on the planet is the result of methane and lightning, which combine to form graphite. This graphite is further subjected to intense pressure, which forms shiny diamonds. Like Saturn, Jupiter has a similar atmosphere, which leads some scientists to conclude that it likely also rains diamonds on the planet.

Diamond Rain Formation

Neptune and Uranus, which are classified as ice giants, are also believed to rain diamonds because their atmospheres contain high amounts of methane (15%) and temperatures do not go above the melting point of diamond (3,820 Kelvin). While impossible observe these rainfalls, researchers suggest that the formation of diamonds occurs through chemical reactions. New data collected also indicates that the two planets have a high presence of carbon. Lightning storms burn methane, transforming it into carbon or soot. As the soot rains down on the planet, its hardens and clumps together to form graphite. The graphite undergoes further pressure as its get closer to the planet’s surface and ultimately becomes transformed into diamond. These diamonds can be as big as one centimeter in diameter. As diamonds hit the planet’s hot core, they melt into the liquid sea.

Criticisms

The presence of diamond on Saturn and Jupiter has been the subject of disagreement among scientists. Some planetary experts suggest that the possibility of diamond rain on Saturn and Jupiter cannot be entirely dismissed, while others claim further investigation is required in order to understand whether diamond can be formed from carbon in an atmosphere with large quantities of hydrogen and helium, such as Saturn and Jupiter. Additionally, William Hubbard, a planetary scientist at the University of Arizona, does not think it is possible to rain diamonds on either Jupiter or Saturn because the amount of methane in their atmospheres is too low. Hubbard suggests that the small amount of soot that is formed becomes destroyed by high temperatures and increasing pressure as it falls.

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