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mysteries of space

Tiny diamonds might hold the key to understanding the early solar system

Small diamonds found within a meteorite that crashed into Earth in 2008 may hold some surprising answers about the early days of our solar system.

A new study published in the journal Nature Communications on Tuesday revealed that those diamonds have preserved miniscule amounts of substances that have remained unchanged since the formation of the solar system. Scientists have discovered that these substances could only have been formed at extremely high pressures — literally "the weight of an entire world," Popular Science reported.

These diamonds, and the deposits within them, probably formed at the core of a planet between the size of Mercury and Mars, Popular Science explained. But the meteorite that delivered them to Earth didn't originate at Mercury or Mars, puzzlingly enough — instead, it's classified as a "ureilite," which means it doesn't match any known bodies in our solar system today.

Now, researchers are theorizing that the meteorite came from a "protoplanet," or an early formation of a planet that later fell apart during the early chaos of the solar system's formation. Earlier theories held that these protoplanets were either absorbed into other planets or satellites or ejected from the solar system entirely, but the discovery of these deposits points to a third possibility.

Using these diamonds, as well as deposits found in other ureilites, scientists hope to find more information about this planet, how it formed, and how it was eventually destroyed. Read more at Popular Science.