A piece of the meteorite which plummeted to Earth back in 2008 Image Credit: CC BY-SA 2.0 Jon Taylor
A meteorite that crashed in the Nubian Desert has offered a glimpse of our solar system's earliest days.
Known as the Almahata Sitta meteorite, the object was found to have a particularly unusual composition and is now believed to have been one of the 'building blocks' of the solar system.
By analyzing it, scientists have been able to learn more about how the planets came to form.
"Before you end up with the nine planets, you had a population of larger bodies a few thousands of kilometres in size - Mercury to Mars size I would say - that were populating the solar system," said geophysicist Professor Philippe Gillet.
"These 'proto-planets' were colliding into each other, forming the planets we know today."
While it's an idea that has been around for years, until now it had been impossible to prove.
"We have in our hands the remnants of one of these planets that were populating the solar system just before the end of its formation," said Gillet.
The object is a type of mysterious, carbon-rich meteorite known as an ureilite.
Scientists now believe that the diamonds within the Almahata Sitta meteorite were formed under enormous pressures within a large planet-like body back in the earliest days of the solar system.
While other fragments came together to form planets or were ejected in to interstellar space, this one remained nearby for billions of years before finally colliding with the Earth in 2008.
Source: Independent | Comments (6)
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