Newly Discovered Meteorite Is Linked to An Ancient Asteroid Collision

Thursday, 23 June 2016 - 4:06PM
Thursday, 23 June 2016 - 4:06PM
Newly Discovered Meteorite Is Linked to An Ancient Asteroid Collision
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Earlier this month, researchers discovered a new meteorite in a Swedish quarry. This new meteorite appears to be a missing part of an asteroid collision, which is nothing out of the ordinary, except that the collision happened 470 million years ago.

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"In our entire civilization, we have collected over 50,000 meteorites, and no one has seen anything like this one before," said study co-author Qing-zhu Yin of UC Davis said in a statement.
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The new meteorite, named Ost 65, was discovered in Sweden's Thorsberg quarry. Measuring just under 4 inches wide, its appearance is less than impressive - but its history is pretty rich. The ancient asteroid collision it comes from may have influenced a great diversification of life in the Ordovician Period. It was the source of L-chondrites, still the most common type of meteorite to this day.

Ost 65 is known as a fossil meteorite because the original rock is almost completely changed, leaving behind only a few hearty minerals like spinels and chromite. Analysis of isotopes in the surviving minerals allowed the researchers to conclude that the meteorite is chemically distant from all known meteorite types. By measuring how long Ost 65 was exposed to cosmic rays, the team deduced that it travelled in space for about a million years before it fell to Earth. This timeline matches up with the L-chondrite meteorites found in the quarry, leading the study authors to then conclude that the rock is a fragment of the other object from the Ordovician collision. 

"I think this shows the interconnectedness of the entire solar system in space and time, that a random collision 470 million years ago in the asteroid belt could dictate the evolutionary path of species here on Earth," comments Yin. The new finding strengthens suspicions that more recent meteorite falls on Earth do not represent the full range of rocks drifting through the solar system, and that there is still more to be learned by collecting preserved meteorite fragments.