How diamonds are created in space

April 24th, 2009 - 1:21 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, April 24 (ANI): Astronomers have learned that creating diamonds in space requires very special conditions.

Loads of tiny diamonds, each measuring one micrometer are located in the material that surrounds some stars - their circumstellar disks.

Few stars have been identified which show clear evidence of diamonds in their disks.

Now, astronomers, using the Subaru Telescope, have learned that creating diamonds in space requires very special conditions.

When scientists look for diamonds in space, they are like detectives using fingerprints to trace a missing person.

The fingerprints of diamond crystals take the form of signature lines in the infrared wavelength, outside the range of visible light.

After more than fifteen years of puzzling over the reasons for these signature lines, astronomers have concluded that diamonds are the carriers of these emissions.

But, the question remains: Why are there so few diamond-studded stars?

An international team of astronomers from the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy (MPIA) in Germany, Hokkaido University in Japan, National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) in Hawaii, Jena University in Germany, and the University of Copenhagen in Denmark used observations from the Subaru Telescope to provide data for their interpretation of why only particular stars have diamonds.

One of their major findings was that the emissions of diamond-disk stars are more centrally located and densely concentrated in the disk than other kinds of emissions.

The scientists then related this finding to another intriguing feature of two of the three stars with diamonds: Large X-ray flares are observed near them.

For stars of intermediate mass, like Elias 1, it is rather uncommon to have a strong X-ray emission, let alone an X-ray flare.

Were these rare occurrences - diamonds and X-ray flares - linked together in some way?

Findings from previous laboratory experiments provided the astronomers with a possible answer. In 1996, physicists in Germany found that tiny diamond particles formed at the core of “carbon onions” when they fired high-energy electron beams into a vacuum.

Led by the MPIA, the scientific team drew parallels between the laboratory findings and what happens in interstellar space.

The X-ray flares seem to come from the lighter companions to the primary stars of the binary systems, where two stars are consistently associated with each other.

Particle acceleration always accompanies the X-ray flare, as these two come from the same energetic phenomena related to stellar magnetic activity.

These conditions could result in a carbon onion in space, with the necessary high pressure to create diamonds. (ANI)

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