Unusual Meteorite Glided Around in Space before the Earth was Born

4.46 billion-year-old meteorite flew around in space before Earth was born

Organic makeup of ancient meteorites sheds light on early solar system

Asteroids are the remains from the formation of the Solar System formation some 4.6 billion years ago.

At this time, the Sun was surrounded by a spinning disk of debris and gas.

Rocks like this, the scientists hope, will help broaden our understanding of the formation of the solar system. Covered in crystals and nearly as big as a basketball, the meteorite is the oldest igneous meteorite ever discovered according to a recently published study.

The researchers say that the meteorites work like a "time capsule" - capturing how things were in the solar system's early days.

"The age of this meteorite is the oldest, igneous meteorite ever recorded", said Professor and Director of the Institute of Meteoritics Carl Agee.

The asteroid, borrowed from the Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle in Paris, is an extremely rare rock known as a carbonaceous chondrite and weighed around 30 pounds (14kg) when it landed. Some of them seem to be like the crust of the Earth as they are very light colored and entail SiO2. Agee had a yet-to-be studied crustal rock that was found in a sand dune in Mauritania by a nomad that he received from a meteorite dealer. He gave the sample to Srinivasan who began to study the mineralogy of the rock, Northwest Africa (NWA) 11119.

The researchers used an electron microprobe and a CT scan to identify the chemical composition and mineralogy of the meteorite.

A never-before-seen space rock - older than Earth itself! - stands out among the 40,000 meteorites researchers have recovered so far. "But we can't actually pinpoint it to a known body that has been viewed with a telescope", Srinivasan said in the statement. Utilizing oxygen isotopes done in collaboration with Dr. Karen Ziegler in UNM's Center for Stable Isotope (CSI) lab, she was able to determine that it was definitely extraterrestrial.

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Although scientists don't know exactly where it's from, they've linked it to two other meteorites found on Earth: Northwest Africa 7235 and Almahata Sitta.

Researchers have identified a unusual meteorite, different from all the meteorites previously studied.

'Earth is a dynamic planet - processes such as plate tectonics and erosion have erased most of the early Earth records.

An asteroid is a large chunk of rock left over from collisions or the early solar system.

Decrepit igneous meteorite entails indication to planet building blocks. As a result, the meteorite provides the evidence of some of the first volcanic activity on Earth.

Isotope analysis of the 4.5 billion year-old Orgueil meteorite revealed traces of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, and sulphur - all of which are central to the beginnings of life. "It has the highest abundance of silica and the most ancient age (4.565 billion years old) of any known igneous meteorite", said study co-author Daniel Dunlap, a graduate student at Arizona State University.

"Chondrites are a snapshot of the early Solar System, providing key insights on how protoplanets and planets formed and were processed", according to study lead Romain Tartèse of Manchester's School of Earth and Environmental Sciences.

The tumultuous period during the birth of the Solar System saw space rocks swarming around the growing gravitational field of the Sun and colliding at a rapid rate to form the planets, moons and meteors we see today.

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