Tags: meteorite | mineral | space

From Meteorite, a Mineral 'First' for Researchers

Meteorite and tail
A meteorite drags a fiery tasil across the night sky. (Dreamstime)

By    |   Friday, 27 December 2019 07:56 PM

Researchers have found the mineral edscottite, which is a phase that iron reaches after cooling down while being smelted into steel, on a meteorite, marking the first time it’s been discovered in nature.

The mineral was discovered in the Wedderburn meteorite, a lemon-sized piece of metal first found in Australia in 1951, and subsequently kept at the nearby Museums Victoria.

“This meteorite had an abundance of carbon in it. And as it slowly cooled down, the iron and carbon came together and formed this mineral,” said Museums Victoria senior curator of geosciences Stuart Mills, in an interview with Melbourne-based newspaper The Age.

"We have discovered 500,000 to 600,000 minerals in the lab, but fewer than 6,000 that nature's done itself," he added.

A CalTech team took a sample of the meteorite to study in 2018, and found a mineral they named edscottite, after the University of Hawaii’s Edward Scott. Although scientists had found the mineral in smelters before, it had never been seen naturally occurring in nature, and was therefore not named until now.

The meteorite likely came from a destroyed planet, which would have formed from a mass of asteroids that once large enough, formed a molten core due to the rocks’ natural radioactivity.

“All rocks to some degree are a little bit radioactive,” said Australian National University planetary scientist Geoffrey Bonning. “So this planet, it starts to melt inside.”

The planet was eventually destroyed, possibly from an impact from another planet, a moon, or an asteroid, which sent debris across the solar system.

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Researchers have found the mineral edscottite, which is a phase that iron reaches after cooling down while being smelted into steel, on a meteorite, marking the first time it's been discovered in nature. The mineral was discovered in the Wedderburn meteorite, a lemon-sized...
meteorite, mineral, space
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2019-56-27
Friday, 27 December 2019 07:56 PM
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