Instead, they were discovered inside a small asteroid that slammed into the atmosphere over the Nubian Desert in northeastern Sudan in October 2008.
Was found after the explosion, the meteor was mainly composed of coarse-grained rocks (olivine and pyroxene), which could be formed in the mantle of "planet-Bud", and the concentration of carbon in them was unusually high.
Sampled from a meteorite that fell to Earth more than a decade ago, this diamond-rich fragment provides compelling evidence of a lost planet that once roamed our solar system, according to a study published Tuesday. Because diamonds are forged at enormous pressures and temperatures, typically deep inside the planet, the various materials that get trapped inside are quite hard to get a hold of at the surface - and diamonds can preserve them for billions of years.
The impurities trapped within the Almahata Sitta diamonds - crystals of chromite, phosphate and iron-nickel-sulfide - are the first to have been discovered in an extraterrestrial diamond.
They concluded the precious stones could only have been formed above pressures of some 20 gigapascals, which could only have existed on a Mars- to Mercury-sized planet.
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Therefore, the Almahata Sitta meteorites finally confirm the existence of large proto-planetary bodies, which had only been speculated until now.
Using electron microscopy, scientists have studied in detail the diamonds, with the result that it became clear that the original amount of precious metal in URALITA was 100 micrometers. The space rock is classified as ureilite, a type of rare meteorite that has embedded within it several different types of minerals.
"What for a jeweler is an imperfection becomes for me something that is very useful because it tells me about the history of the diamond", said Dr. Gillet.
That lost planet was the size of Mercury or perhaps Mars, researchers now say.
Next, the researchers turned their attention to what are known as chemical inclusions inside the diamonds. On Earth, diamonds are used to identify the structure and composition of the planet's deep layers. Many planetary embryos were Mars-sized bodies, such as the one that collided with Earth to give rise to the Moon.
In the new study, lead author Farhang Nabiei, a materials scientist at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, in Switzerland, and colleagues detailed what they found upon analyzing the inclusions inside the ureilite diamonds.