Uranus is so tight, it can melt diamonds.

Diamond Oceans Possible on Uranus, Neptune.
Oceans of liquid diamond, filled with solid diamond icebergs, could be floating on Neptune and Uranus, according to a recent article in the journal Nature Physics.

Diamond is an incredibly hard material. That alone makes it difficult to melt. But diamond has another quality that makes it even more difficult to measure its melting point. Diamond doesn't like to stay diamond when it gets hot. When diamond is heated to extreme temperatures it physically changes, from diamond to graphite. The graphite, and not the diamond, then melts into a liquid. The trick for the scientists was to heat the diamond up while simultaneously stopping it from transforming into graphite.

An ocean of diamond could help explain the orientation of the planet's magnetic field as well, said Eggert. Roughly speaking, the Earth's magnetic poles match up with the geographic poles. The magnetic and geographic poles on Uranus and Neptune do not match up; in fact, they can be up to 60 degrees off of the north-south axis. A swirling ocean of liquid diamond could be responsible for the discrepancy. Up to 10 percent of Uranus and Neptune is estimated to be made from carbon. A huge ocean of liquid diamond in the right place could deflect or tilt the magnetic field out of alignment with the rotation of the planet.

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12 Responses:

  1. mc_kingfish says:

    I love you Ferris Bueller.

  2. mandy_moon says:

    Oh, that is damn cool. I really do think that the ice giants beyond Jupiter are overlooked and overshadowed by Jupiter and Saturn.

  3. gths says:

    Current Music: Sonic Youth -- The Diamond Sea

  4. lafinjack says:

    Uranus, a girl's best friend.

  5. skington says:

    OK, so small gas giants might have oceans of liquid diamond, filled with solid diamond icebergs. Not to mention other things that we haven't thought of yet. What about the large gas giants like Saturn and Jupiter?

    It boggles my mind that we still haven't finished with such basic questions as "So, what's it like on Uranus?"

    • greyface says:

      I can't imagine how "So, what's it like on Uranus?" is a basic question.

      Ok, I take that back, I can imagine how, if the distance between us and Uranus were not all but entirely incomprehensible.

  6. pavel_lishin says:

    Hang on, how can you have a sea of something that is defined by its crystalline structure? Isn't a liquid by definition disorderly?

    • Yeah, I wondered the same thing. I think they just mean molten (liquid) carbon. The phase diagram for carbon at crazy pressures isn't perfectly known, unsurprisingly, but here are a couple of articles from Science and PNAS with phase diagrams. They only show one liquid phase. (bc8 is another solid phase, like graphite and diamond.)

      • pavel_lishin says:

        I would tend to agree with you that they might mean liquid carbon, but this sentence really seems to point to liquid diamond specifically:

        But diamond has another quality that makes it even more difficult to measure its melting point. Diamond doesn't like to stay diamond when it gets hot. When diamond is heated to extreme temperatures it physically changes, from diamond to graphite.

        The graphite, and not the diamond, then melts into a liquid. The trick for the scientists was to heat the diamond up while simultaneously stopping it from transforming into graphite.

        Then again, re-reading it, maybe they just mean a liquid that became a liquid straight from the diamond "phase". But what the hell is the difference?

  7. luserspaz says:

    DeBeers are going to shit themselves.