Mysterious extraterrestrial guest continues to amaze scientists

Mysterious extraterrestrial guest continues to amaze scientists

Researchers Jan Kramers and Georgy Belyanin have identified compounds that differ from all terrestrial, meteoritic and cometary. We are talking about the stone Hypatia, found in southwest Egypt

In 2013, scientists announced that pebbles found in the southwestern territory of Egypt do not belong to terrestrial minerals. In 2015, an even more interesting discovery appeared. It turns out that Hypatia does not correlate with any of the known types of meteorites or comets (named after the Hypatia of Alexandria).

However, where did the stone come from? New micro-mineral analyzes performed by scientists from the University of Johannesburg are trying to answer this question.

Mineral structure

The internal structure of Hypatia resembles a cake that has fallen into the flour, broken on impact. In geological terms, it is a mixture of two matrices. There are mineral grains as a primary mineral and dusty cracks - secondary, already belonging to terrestrial types of substances.

Initially, the fallen alien rock was supposed to cover several meters in diameter, but when it fell, it fell into several pieces. Hypatia is one of them.

Fancy Matrix

If you study the mineral matrix, then you will not find anything like it among the famous meteorites and rocks periodically falling to Earth. If we turn our entire planet into dust, we will get the same chemical composition that is observed in chondrite meteorites. They contain a small amount of carbon and a lot of silicon. But the Hypatia matrix is ​​endowed with a large volume of carbon and a small amount of silicon. Unusually, the matrix contains many specific carbon compounds - polyaromatic hydrocarbons. This is the main component of interstellar dust that existed before the formation of our system. Such dust is also found in comets and meteorites that did not heat up during a long period of their history.

Interestingly, most polyaromatic hydrocarbons were transformed into diamonds up to one micrometer in size. Most likely, this was due to a collision with the earth's atmosphere or surface. It was these diamonds that made Hypatia resistant to atmospheric influences.

Unprecedented Grains

When analyzing the mineral grains of Hypatia, we managed to fix a number of the most bizarre chemical elements.

Aluminum is formed in pure metallic form by itself, and not in chemical combination with other elements. This is extremely rare in terrestrial conditions and in the rest of our system.

Also, scientists have found silver-iodide phosphide and silicon carbide in unexpected forms. There are grains of compounds represented by nickel and phosphorus with a small volume of iron. Such a mineral composition has not previously been observed on Earth or in meteorites.

Unique minerals in the system

Together, all these minerals suggest that Hypatia is a collection of unchanged pre-solar material. That is, this is the matter that preceded the sun.

Nickel-phosphorus-iron grains were found in the stone, testifying in favor of this theory. These three chemical elements are interesting because they belong to a subset of heavier elements than carbon and nitrogen (they make up the bulk of all rocky planets). In the grains of Hypatia, the ratio of these three elements is completely different from those of the Earth or meteorites. Therefore, these inclusions for our system are considered unique. Did the main mass of Hypatia form before the appearance of the system? Probably not, because it would take a dense dust cloud.

Another kind of dust

Science claims that the planets of our system emerged from a huge ancient cloud of interstellar dust. The nebula was homogeneous, that is, the dust remained the same everywhere. But the chemistry of Hypatia is very different. The matrix is ​​devoid of silicate minerals, but has exotic mineral inclusions. If Hypatia is not a pre-solar object, this may hint at the lack of uniformity in the solar nebula.

In the future

We know that Hypatia appeared in a cold environment where the temperature fell below -196 ° C. If you project on the solar system, then it is further than the asteroid belt (between Mars and Jupiter). Comets come from the Kuiper belt, located beyond the orbit of Neptune. Some guests come from Oort Cloud. But we still know little about the chemical composition of such objects. Therefore, the question of the nature of Hypatia remains open.

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