Meteorite That Collided With Our Planet Contains Organic Compounds

Two years ago, a massive fireball illuminated the US’s skies, offering a majestic show for stargazers. Those Americans living in Michigan were astonished to feast their eyes on the cosmic phenomenon, but there’s much more to it than a simple sparkling light. 

We’re talking about the Hamburg meteorite that went right through a frozen lake from Michigan at a speed of 36,000 miles per hour. As scientists struggled to retrieve the space rock’s remnants as quickly as possible, they discovered something unique on the 0.8-ounce (22-gram) chunk of meteorite located at the frozen Strawberry Lake near Hamburg, Michigan.

Scientists recovered pristine from the asteroid

Pristine is an untainted organic compound. More precisely, we’re talking about carbon-based molecules that formed within the rock’s parent asteroid. In total, the scientists identified 2,600 different organic compounds on the remnants of the asteroid.

Philipp Heck, the lead author of a new paper describing the meteorite and a curator at the Field Museum in Chicago, declared:

As soon as you get water, the metal starts to rust, and minerals like olivine get altered,

Water also brings in contaminants through the many cracks that usually crisscross meteorites—cracks that formed when the meteorite got ejected from its parent asteroid during a previous impact event,

Various scientific methods were used for studying the remnants of the asteroid, such as spectroscopy, different types of mass spectrometry, magnetometry, weather radar, microscopy, and CT scanning.

The Hamburg meteorite is classified as an H4 chondrite, a rare type referring to space rocks that are blasted with heat as they were ejected from their parent asteroid. The organic compounds likely formed in the parent asteroid right after its formation when it was hot from accretion and from the decay of radioactive elements.

The new findings were published in Meteoritics & Planetary Science.

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