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Letters to Nature
Nature 326, 160 - 162 (12 March 1987); doi:10.1038/326160a0

Interstellar diamonds in meteorites

Roy S. Lewis*, Tang Ming*, John F. Wacker*, Edward Anders* & Eric Steel

*Enrico Fermi Institute and Department of Chemistry, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois 60637, USA
Center for Analytical Chemistry, National Bureau of Standards, Gaithersburg, Maryland 20899, USA
Present address: Geological Research Division, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, California 92093, USA.

Primitive meteorites contain up to 400 p.p.m. of a very fine-grained type of carbon, noncommittally called Cδ1. It apparently conies from outside the Solar System, as it carries isotopically anomalous krypton and xenon ('Xe–HL' or 'CCFXe', enriched twofold in the lightest and heaviest isotopes2) and nitrogen (δ15N =–330‰3; that is, depleted in 15N by –330‰ relative to atmospheric nitrogen), although the carbon itself is within the terrestrial range (δ13C =–38‰1). Expanding on a preliminary report4, we now present evidence that part or all of Cδ is diamond—not shock-produced but primary, formed by stellar condensation as a metastable phase. It appears that interstellar dust contains diamond.

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