Mystery diamond from space is harder than any diamond found on Earth
| Last updated
Featured Image Credit: RMIT University/RHJPhtotos/Shutterstock
Researchers have finally confirmed the existence of a ‘mystery’ diamond from space that’s harder than any found on earth.
While scientists have previously debated the celestial diamond’s existence, it’s now been found on our planet’s surface and the stone - called lonsdaleite - is thought to have arrived via a meteorite.
Scientists are particularly excited by the discovery because the chemical process that formed lonsdaleite could be adapted and used to manufacture ‘super-durable’ components.
Reporting on the news, CNN pointed to a study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (in which the discovery was first recorded) and noted that Andy Tomkins, a professor at Monash University in Australia, realised he’d come across the new stone while out in the field categorising meteorites in northwest Africa.
According to the study’s co-author, Alan Salek, Tomkins stumbled upon a ‘strange, bended kind of diamond in space rock’.
Salek said that Tomkins figured the meteorite that brought the lonsdaleite to earth likely came from a dwarf planet that existed around 4.5 billion years ago.
He shared: “The dwarf planet was then catastrophically struck by an asteroid, releasing pressure and leading to the formation of these really strange diamonds.”
Touching upon the idea that the discovery of lonsdaleite could be used to create cutting-edge industrial components in the future, Paul Asimow, a professor of geology and geochemistry at the California Institute of Technology, said: “It really takes advantage of a number of recent developments in microscopy to do what they did as well as they did it.”
The team analysed and built maps of the meteorite’s components using electron microscopy and advanced synchrotron techniques, and aside from lonsdaleite, researchers also found graphite.
Tomkins himself said: “Nature has thus provided us with a process to try and replicate in industry.
“We think that lonsdaleite could be used to make tiny, ultra-hard machine parts if we can develop an industrial process that promotes replacement of pre-shaped graphite parts by lonsdaleite.”
Bits of lonsdaleite were first discovered by scientists in 1967 but only measured about one to two nanometers in size.
Noting that scientists previously debated the existence of the mineral, Asimow said: “It seems like a strange claim that we have a name for a thing, and we all agree what it is.
“And yet there are claims in the community that it’s not a real mineral, it’s not a real crystal, that you could have a macroscopic scale.”
If you have a story you want to tell, send it to UNILAD via [email protected]
Topics: News, Science, World News
- Astronaut opens up on 'dramatic' feeling of returning to Earth from space
- Five planets in the solar system will all be visible from earth at the same time in March
- Scientist revives 48,500-year-old 'zombie' virus found in Siberian permafrost
- Scientists don't know why the Earth is spinning faster than ever