A tiny piece of a comet was found encased in a meteorite that fell to Earth and was recovered from Antarctica in 2002. The meteorite is called LaPaz Icefield 02342 and was found to contain a 100 micron thick carbon-rich segments that the researchers think it originated in a comet. The new findings and the probe into the composition of the meteorite were published Monday in the journal Nature Astronomy.
Typically, comets burn up when they enter Earth’s atmosphere, but this cosmic rock insured a protective armor around the comet pieces making it possible for scientists to study the inception of the solar system, Gizmodo reads. Cosmochemist Jemma Davidson from Arizona State University reportedly said that when she first saw the electron images of the carbon-rich material she instantly knew she was looking at something scarce.
The tiny carbon-rich silver is measuring a tenth of a millimeter and is bearing strong resemblances with interplanetary dust particles and micrometeorites believed to originate in comets that developed in the Kuiper Belt at the freezing peripheries of the Solar System.
A meteorite recovered from Antarctica encased a piece of a comet inside it
Scientists conducted isotopic analysis of the material, and it deduced that the silver most likely formed in the same place and in the same way. However, according to Gizmo, the scientists cannot fully confirm that the meteorite is actually hosting a comet because the cause of the meteorite’s forming is unknown. However, based on what the researchers already know about comets and meteors, they suggest that the still-forming comet slammed into a meteorite that ultimately fell to Earth.
Cosmochemist Larry Nittler from the Carnegie Institution for Science said that the material was protected from the damages of entering Earth’s atmosphere just because the meteorite swallowed it and therefore preserved, later giving the scientists a chance to understand the early Solar System’s chemistry.
There are very few comets that actually handle and survive the fall to Earth, so if that’s what researchers indeed found, it could lead to great discoveries on how the heavenly bodies were and are formed.
Brad is a former Senior Fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University, is an award-winning travel, culture, and parenting writer. His writing has appeared in many of the Canada’s most respected and credible publications, including the Toronto Star, CBC News and on the cover of Smithsonian Magazine. A meticulous researcher who’s not afraid to be controversial, he is nationally known as a journalist who opens people’s eyes to the realities behind accepted practices in the care of children. Brad is a contributing journalist to Advocator.ca