Uranus and Neptune imaged by Voyager 2 in January 1986 and August 1989, respectively. Approximate true color and relative scale sizes. Both are about four times wider than Earth.
The conditions found deep inside the ice giants Uranus and Neptune are intense and exotic, to say the least. The incredibly frigid and windy environments found at the cloud tops, where hydrogen and helium are mixed with methane and ammonia, eventually give way to warmer interiors and crushing pressures with increasing depth. And as scientists gain the ability to recreate these kinds of temperatures and pressures in a lab and analyze the results, they’re confirming some long-standing hypotheses of what’s going on thousands of kilometers inside Uranus and Neptune: a steady rain of diamonds, created by crushed hydrocarbons.
The research was conducted by an international team at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory at Stanford University. Building on the results of earlier 2017 experiments, the team recently used a technique called X-ray Thomson scattering that precisely reproduces previous diffraction results while also allowing them to study how elements mix in non-crystal samples at extreme conditions.
As reported by Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) on June 24, 2020, “Recreating extreme conditions in the lab, like ...