Friday, January 12, 2018

Extraterrestrial Rock Contains Compounds Not Found in Our Solar System

Image: Fragments of the Hypatia stone via Dr Mario di Martino, INAF Osservatorio Astrofysico di Torino
Image: Fragments of the Hypatia stone via Dr Mario di Martino, INAF Osservatorio Astrofysico di Torino
 A group of scientists from the University of Johannesburg has found that the Hypatia stone, which was found in south-west Egypt and named after the 4-5th century CE scientist Hypatia of Alexandria, contains compounds not found anywhere else in our solar system. This comes after the 2013 revelation that the rock had not come from Earth.
 Initially, scientists hypothesized that the rock might have been a fragment of a comet nucleus, shocked on impact while others predicted that it was formed in a cold environment. However, subsequent analysis of the stone's carbonaceous matrix has found that it lacks silicate matter, setting it apart from other interplanetary material that has fallen to Earth in the past. The presence of other minerals suggests that this rock seems to predate that of the Sun.
 Some of the compounds found within the stone include aluminum in its pure metallic form (something that almost never happens in the solar system), silicon carbide and silver iodine phosphide in highly unexpected forms. Furthermore, the compound consisted mostly of phosphorous and nickel, without traces of iron - a composition never before seen on Earth or in materials from our Solar System.

Read more about this fascinating story at: https://www.sciencealert.com/hypatia-stone-extraterrestrial-meteorite-composition-like-nothing-in-the-solar-system
Or read the full study at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0016703717307962

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