Diamonds are a girl’s best friend. But how is a girl to get them? She might look to the stars. Remember the song, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds? The Beatles had it right. As astronomers scour the skies, they find that many meteorites and space dust are just that… diamonds.
The first documented meteorite with a diamond in it was found in 1888. It fell in September near Novo-Ureil in Russia. The story about the Novo-urei meteorite goes like this:
In the morning several peasants plowed their field 3 km from a village. The day was gloomy, the whole northeastern sky was covered by clouds. Suddenly a light appeared all around. In several seconds a strong report was heard, like a cannon or explosion. Then came a second, louder noise. With a loud noise a fireball fell to Earth a few meters from the peasants. Frightened, they did not know what to do. They fell to the ground and could not move for a long time. They thought it was a strong thunderstorm, and that thunderbolts were falling from the sky. Finally, one of them, more brave, came to the place where the thunderbolt had fallen, and to his surprise found only a shallow hole. In the middle of the hole a black stone lay half-buried in the soil.
Kirensk City, 1886
In 1981, Smithsonian researchers tried to cut through a large iron meteorite with a sawtooth blade.They were surprised when the blade got chewed up so they made x-rays of the meteorite. They had another surprise. They found that the stone was full of microscopic diamonds which are the hardest known substance to man.
NASA Looks for a Girl’s Best Friend
Now, NASA uses an infra-red space telescope called the Spitzer to look for diamonds. It’s located at the NASA Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California. “Space diamonds are formed under very different conditions than diamonds are formed on Earth,” says Louis Allamandola. Earth diamonds form under immense pressure, deep inside the planet under very high temperatures. Space diamonds are found in cold molecular clouds. The pressure is billions of times lower with temperatures below minus 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Now that scientists know what to look for, they expect to find more diamonds in space. And October of 2008, astronomers tracked an asteroid headed for Earth. They were able to track it before it became a shooting star. They assumed after it blew up there would be no space rocks left to examine.
However, students headed to the remote Sudan desert to search for pieces of the asteroid anyway. They were not disappointed. They found 4kg of rocks left over from the asteroid. The rocks were full of minuscule diamonds. Michael Zolensky, a co-author of the study, said “if bacteria had engagement rings, these would be the right size for them. “
And Geologists of HS Gour University, Sagar, found micro diamonds on Tamil Nadu’s Nagapattinam and Vedaranniyam beaches 4 years after the tsunami. They have not ruled out that these diamonds are from meteorites.
Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend: How About a Billion, Trillion, Trillion Carats?
The largest space diamond found so far is 10 billion, trillion, trillion carats and named BPM 37093. This isn’t a romantic name for the huge diamond, but what a diamond. It is actually a white dwarf which is what is left over after a planet dies. To grade it would require a jeweler’s loupe as big as the sun.
So we see the Beatles had it right. So does the nursery rhyme, “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.” And look at Taylor Swift and her song, “Those Stars Burn Like Diamonds.” And what about Stephen King? From his book, ‘Salem’s Lot:
“In the east the stars are already out. They gleam steadily, like fierce diamonds.”
And also Shakespeare, “The night was clear and the stars shone brilliant as diamonds against the velvet sky.”
Is it possible that some primitive intuition tells us that many of our stars are made of diamonds? It’s much more romantic to know that when we stare at the stars, we are looking at real diamonds. Maybe stars are a girl’s best friend too.