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'Black glass' could be comet chunk

Posted on Friday, 11 October, 2013 | Comment icon 8 comments

Scientists believe the object could have been part of a comet. Image Credit: NASA/JPL
A remarkable charred black pebble could be the first large-scale comet fragment ever recovered.
The 30-gram object was discovered in the Egyptian desert near the Libyan border by geologist Aly Barakat in 1996. The area is part of a 6000-square-kilometre region well known for being covered in green glass fragments believed to have been formed by a meteor strike.

Several years on and the black stone has been subjected to a plethora of scientific testing that has helped identify it as something of great significance, a fragment of material that may have come from a comet.

Up until now, scientists have only ever found tiny grains of cometary material in the Earth's atmosphere and in Antarctic ice. If the fragment does turn out to be from a comet then it would be the first large-scale piece of a comet ever discovered. It would also mean that the green glass in the Egyptian desert was formed by a comet explosion, not a meteor.

"We can study material from the outermost solar system for the first time," said study team member Jan Kramers. "This is actually quite exciting."

Source: New Scientist | Comments (8)

Tags: Comet

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Hobbit Feet on 11 October, 2013, 13:33
I thought green glass was from volcanos.
Comment icon #2 Posted by paperdyer on 11 October, 2013, 14:51
And old Coke bottles. Seriously, if the meteor/comet hit with enough force and heat, I can see glass being formed. I guess the color would have been from the composition of the meteor.
Comment icon #3 Posted by YukiEsmaElite0 on 11 October, 2013, 17:00
Meteors and comets are made from all sorts of minerals. I could see the mineral being spread through the glass as it's being made and giving it colour.
Comment icon #4 Posted by Sundew on 11 October, 2013, 20:43
Comets are supposedly made of dust, rock and ice, when they hit the atmosphere most of it probably burns up, perhaps this is just some of the dust fused together by the heat of hitting the atmosphere, much like when the heat from lightning fuses sand together to form fulgurites.
Comment icon #5 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 12 October, 2013, 10:37
Not so. They may be made of ice but remember that ice at the temperatures experienced in the coldness of space acts more like rock. Travelling at tens of thousands of miles an hour, the passage through the thin atmosphere takes only a few seconds. In the case of a large comet this will only heat up the surface, the vast majority of the comet will remain intact until they hit the Earth. The atmosphere protects us from small objects but it is no protection against large asteroids and comets.
Comment icon #6 Posted by Sundew on 17 October, 2013, 0:50
Hmm, I guess I was thinking more along the lines of cometary fragments, like some of the meteor showers that are their remains. You are quite correct, I think Comet ISON is about 3 miles across at its core, or at least that's what one estimate I read indicated. That's a lot of ice to melt in a split second upon entering our atmosphere, should one that size hit us. There was also that famous incident over Tunguska, although I think it did not actually hit the earth but blew up at altitude. In any case it made quite a mess. If it happened today over a major city it could have the appea... [More]
Comment icon #7 Posted by TracyTracy on 22 October, 2013, 21:12
According to Wikipedia, archaeologists tag this same area with the earliest known glass artifacts of human culture which were bead-like. Sounds as though these beads may have been made from bits of the comet as opposed to being manufactured by humankind. Makes sense!

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