Spitzer Space Telescope to help find diamonds in space

March 6th, 2008 - 2:20 pm ICT by admin  

Washington, March 6 (ANI): Scientists have devised a way to use the Spitzer Space Telescope to find diamonds in space, which might help them to understand how carbon-rich molecules develop.

According to a report in Discovery News, on Earth, diamonds form deep inside the planet, under high temperature and pressure. In space, the opposite conditions exist, with extremely low pressures and temperatures that dip to minus 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

In certain meteorites that have crashed to Earth, about three percent of the carbon inside is in the form of nanometer-sized diamonds. If the meteorites accurately reflect the composition of interstellar gas and dust, it would mean that every gram of cosmic cloud contains 100,000 trillion nanodiamonds.

Scientists have now devised a method to use bright light from a background star to reveal the telltale chemical fingerprints of diamonds’ tightly bonded carbon molecules.

The research, which appears in an upcoming issue of Astrophysical Journal, indicates that the nanodiamonds should radiate brightly in the infrared wavelengths that the Spitzer Space Telescope is fortuitously sensitive to.

The key to spotting the diamonds is high-energy ultraviolet light, which would cause the diamond’s carbon bonds to move as it passes through, producing a distinctive pattern in the infrared.

According to the scientists, the best way to find diamonds is space is to look right next to hot stars, which radiate in ultraviolet.

“Now that we know where to look, infrared telescopes like Spitzer can help us learn more about their life in space,” said Louis Allamandola from NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California. (ANI)

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