Found: Source of one of the rarest meteorites to hit Earth

Found: Source of one of the rarest meteorites to hit Earth

A specimen of the Ivuna meteorite, one of the rarest meteorites to hit Earth, is being held at the Natural History Museum (Credit: PA)

UK scientists believe they have identified the source of one of the rarest meteorites ever to hit Earth.

The Ivuna meteorite landed in Tanzania in December 1938 and was subsequently broken up into several specimens – one of which is housed at the Natural History Museum (NHM). London.

based on a Analysis of an asteroid known as RyuguExperts believe that the Evuna rock may have originated from the edge of the solar system.

The NHM team said its findings, published in the journal Science Advances, could unlock more answers about the early history of the solar system. and shed more light on how life came to earth.

Professor Sarah Russell, a senior research lead at the museum, who is a co-author of the paper, explained: ‘This is a really exciting discovery for me because it shows that the meteorites in our museum and collections around the world actually sample the hardest solar system, the innermost rocky part. from to its outermost part.

‘We can use them to learn more about our origins and about all our companion planets.’

Evuna falls into a class of extremely rare meteorites known as CI chondrites.

They are rocky carbonaceous meteorites that retain the original primordial chemistry from the formation of the Solar System more than four billion years ago.

They are known to contain water – one of the basic elements of life.

Professor Russell said that apart from Evuna, there are only four known CI-type meteorites on Earth: Orguil and Allais, which both fell in France, Tonk which fell in India and the smaller Revelstoke meteorite which fell in Canada.

He said: ‘It is only in the last decade that we have begun to realize that objects in the Solar System can move towards and away from the Sun.’

For the study, the team examined Ryugu samples, which were remotely returned to Earth in 2020 by the Japanese spacecraft Hayabusa 2.

The spacecraft Hayabusa2 approaches asteroid Ryugu (Credit: PA)

It is thought that Ryugu, which is classified as a near-Earth object, was born in the outer solar system more than four billion years ago and drifted towards Earth after breaking away from a larger body.

It is now located between Earth and Mars and orbits the Sun.

Ryugu belongs to a class of asteroids called carbonaceous, or C-type, asteroids.

C-type asteroids are rich in water, carbon and organic compounds from the formation of the Solar System.

The researchers say that both the Ryugu and CI chondrites originated from the same region of space – the outskirts of the Solar System – and cannot rule out the possibility that they share the same parent body.

Professor Russell said: ‘By comparing the iron forms of both asteroids and meteorites we learned that Ryugu is remarkably similar to CI chondrites.’

More: NASA records the first ‘bloop’ sound of an asteroid hitting Mars

More: Orionid meteor shower 2022: when it peaks and how to see it over the UK

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