Diamonds are a girl's best friend, or so that song says. On our planet diamonds are fairly plentiful, but in the distant worlds of Neptune and Uranus they are even more plentiful.
Deep within Uranus and Neptune it rains diamonds, or at least, so it is suspected. Astronomers and Physicists have believed this to be the case for nearly 40 years. The outer planets of our Solar System are harder to study than our moon, and our neighbours.
The outer planets of our solar system are hard to study, and only one space mission, Voyager 2, has flown by to reveal some of their hidden wonders. So while diamond rain is possible, it's only really a hypothesis.
Both Uranus and Neptune are called ‘Ice Giants’ due to their outer two layers being made up of compounds that include both hydrogen and helium. They have a gorgeous blue hue which is the result of methane traces in their atmospheres.
However, it is in fact the ‘ice’ in the deep middle layers that shapes their properties. On Neptune beneath its deep hydrogen-helium atmosphere is an ice layer which is 17,500 km thick. Projected simulations suggest that the gravity compresses this ice and raises the internal temperature to several thousand kelvins. Under such heat and pressure ammonia and methane are reactive, which could form diamonds.
There is an article titled “The Ice Layer of Uranus and Neptune- Diamonds in the Sky?” In which it was suggested that the carbon and hydrogen atoms of hydrocarbons such as the methane of Neptune separate at high pressures and high temperatures deep inside these Ice Giants. Clusters of these isolated carbon atoms would then be squeezed into a diamond structure, the most stable form of carbon.
It is hypotheses’ like such that make scientists believe that on Neptune and Uranus it rains diamonds. There is no solid evidence though simply due to us being unable to reach that far into our solar system, but science and chemistry provide enough explanation to make it highly plausible.
What planet rains fire?
In late 2020 researchers described a planet that is unlike any planet in our solar system. It is the size of earth and is named K2-141b. It is literally the planet of fire and ice. On one side it is crazy hot, with hot lava and fire, and on the other side it is obscenely cold.
On its heated side it has an ocean of hot bubbling magma, a rock vapor atmosphere and supersonic winds. It is safe to say it is less than habitable. It is around 202 light-years from our solar system in the direction of ‘Aquarius the Water Bearer’, a constellation you can view anywhere in the world in November.
K2-141b has a magma ocean that is 62 miles deep, it has rain that is composed of rock that evaporates and then precipitates in a regular cycles similar to water. And its supersonic winds go over 3,100 miles per hour.
K2-141b is very similar to earth, but it is only about 1 ½ the radius of Earth. Its surface atmosphere and ocean are entirely composed of rock, its most specific components are sodium, silicon monoxide, and silicone dioxide. It is also very unusual, with some things more in common with our moon than our planet. It is tidally locked to its sun, which means like that of our moon, it is always facing its star on the same side. Which explains why one side is piping hot lava and the other side is an ice world.
On its cold side it is believed to be around -330-degrees Fahrenheit, while on its star-facing side it is believed to be an obscene 5,700-degrees Fahrenheit. On K2-141b the surface temperature is so hot that the rocks can actually evaporate, this vaporized rock creates a very thin atmosphere on this weird planet.
Its cycle of precipitation is very similar to ours but just without any water involved. Instead of water, it had rock vapor.
What planet rains rubies?
Isn’t it amazing to imagine that somewhere in our universe there is a planet full of gemstones? If we could only just go there and grab a handful right? Well, there is just such a planet, it's just a shame that it is 1,000 light years away. You would need to borrow a spaceship from Star Trek to get there and back in your lifetime.
This planet is HAT-P-7b, which is an exoplanet similar to Jupiter. A team led by Dr. David Armstrong came to the conclusion that clouds on HAT-P-7b contain corundum, a mineral that forms rubies and sapphires. Using the Kepler space telescope the team noticed that this planet, that is immense in size (twice the size of our own sun) shimmered like an ornate gemstone.
Its shimmer is caused by a phenomenon created by dramatic windstorms that push the clouds around the planet at a multitude of speeds. It is the first evidence of a weather system on a ‘gas-giant’ planet.
These bright shimmering cloud patches were seen shifting position as they blow across the sky by the extremely powerful equatorial jet stream of this planet. It is a planet with extremely violent weather systems, thanks to it being so close to its star it has temperatures that exceed 4532-degrees Fahrenheit.
The clouds that seem to produce these gemstones are blown across the planet at insane speeds, that leads to catastrophic storms. You could imagine looking at this planet, seeing horrific storms enrapturing the planet, and seeing hundreds of thousands of rubies and sapphires raining down from its sky.
Although, this is not yet proven as we cannot get there, so do not go expecting any rubies from this gas-giants insane wind storm clouds. However, it is interesting to think that it is indeed possible for chemical compounds in clouds to be other than what we know, and that somewhere in our distant universe, it rains down gemstones just like our planet rains water.