Unusual Meteorite Glided Around in Space before the Earth was Born

An artist’s rendition of NWA 11119, the oldest-ever igneous meteorite. Image credit University of New Mexico

Approximately 4.5 billion years ago, the catastrophic explosion of a massive star, a supernova, caused an enormous cloud of cosmic dust and gas to come together and form our solar system. As this cloud disintegrated it established a spinning disk with the Sun in the center.

It could also help astronomers investigate the potential habitability of other solar systems.

Scientists say a weird, baseball-sized space rock studded with green crystals is "completely different" from any other known meteorite on Earth.

The research offers undeviating proof that chemically developed silica-rich crustal rocks were sculpting on planetesimals within the first 10 million years before the congregation of the terrestrial planets and assists scientists further comprehend the difficulty of planet formation.

The asteroid, borrowed from the Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle in Paris, is an extremely rare rock known as a carbonaceous chondrite and weighed around 30 pounds (14kg) when it landed. Some of them look nearly like the crust of the Earth because they're so light colored and full of SiO2. These not only survive but took place during one of the most premiere volcanic event to occur in the solar system. The research confirmed that NWA 11119 is the oldest-ever igneous meteorite recorded at 4.565 billion years.

Scientists have analysed one of the meteorites that formed during this period before crashing down on Earth 4.5 billion years later. "Therefore, this likely implies that carbonaceous chondrite organics were formed through chemical reactions in the early Solar System, rather than having been inherited from the interstellar medium".


An asteroid is a large chunk of rock left over from collisions or the early solar system.

Fondly nicknamed "Northwest Africa (NWA) 11119", the rock is believed to be 4.565 billion years old.

Achondrite meteorites record the first episodes of volcanism and crust formation, the majority of which are basaltic. Researchers, led by Dr Romain Tartèse of Manchester's School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, have been analysing the isotopic makeup of oxygen in the organic materials found in these specific meteorites. "It has the highest abundance of silica and the most ancient age (4.565 billion years old) of any known igneous meteorite", said study co-author Daniel Dunlap, a graduate student at Arizona State University.

There is still much scientists don't understand about how planets are built, but a discovery like this one can help researchers understand "what an earlier version of Earth might have looked like", Srinivasan said. Then, our curiosity always pushes us to, to ask the question, how did they form, how did the Earth form?

The rock is made of the first solid materials - such as rocks, organics, water ice, and fine grain dust - that formed in our Solar System. "Ultimately, this is how planets are forged".

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