An asteroid that slammed into the Sudan desert on Oct. 7, 2008, shot out lots of little space rocks holding a precious secret: diamonds that likely formed billions of years ago inside the embryo of a now-decimated planet.
That lost planet was the size of Mercury or perhaps Mars, researchers now say.
In the space rocks, which are also called meteorites, researchers found compounds common to diamonds on Earth, such as chromite, phosphate and iron-nickel sulfides. It’s the first time these diamond components have been found in an extraterrestrial body, the researchers said in a new study describing the findings.
The finding provides more information on the early days of our solar system about 4.4 billion years ago, when the zone near the sun had several planetary embryos. Many of them coalesced into the planets we see today. Others fell into the sun or were ejected into interstellar space.