The real Tatawin meteorite behind Star Wars reveals its secrets: ScienceAlert

Local residents watched in awe as a fireball exploded and hundreds of meteorite fragments rained down on the city of Tataouine, Tunisia, on June 27, 1931.

Fittingly, the city later became a major filming location for the Star Wars franchise. The desert climate and traditional villages became a major inspiration for director George Lucas, who proceeded to name the fictional planet where Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader live “Tatooine.”

The mysterious 1931 meteorite, a rare type of Chondrite (a meteorite that underwent melting) is known as a diogenite, and is clearly not part of Skywalker's home planet. But it was also named after the city of Tataouine.

Now, a Recent study He has gathered important insights into the origin of meteorite – and the early solar system.

Asteroid 4 Vesta, on the left, and Tatooine, as seen in Star Wars, on the right. (NASA/Wikipedia)

Lucas filmed various scenes for Star Wars on Tataouine. These include Episode IV – A New Hope (1977), Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999) and Star Wars: Episode 2 – Attack of the Clones (2002). Various famous scenes It was filmed thereincluding scenes”Mos Espa“And the Mos Eisley Cantina.”

Mark Hamill, the actor who played Luke Skywalker, recalled filming in Tunisia and discussed it with him Empire Magazine: “If you can reach into your mind, push the crew away and look at the horizon, you will truly feel like you have been transported to another world.”

Tataouine, Tunisia.
Tataouine, Tunisia. (Wikipedia, CC BY-SA)

Composition and origin

Diogenite, which is named by this name Greek philosopher Diogenes, are igneous meteorites (rocks that have solidified from lava or magma). They formed deep inside the asteroid and then cooled slowly, creating relatively large crystals.

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Tataouine is no exception, containing crystals up to 5 mm in size with intermittent black veins a sample throughout. Black veins are called impact melt veins, and are the result of high temperatures and pressures caused by a projectile colliding with the surface of the meteorite's original body.

The presence of these veins and the grain structure of pyroxene (minerals containing calcium, magnesium, iron and aluminium) indicate that the sample was subjected to pressures of up to 25 gigapascals (GPa) from pressure.

To put this into perspective, the pressure at the bottom of the Mariana Trench is, The deepest part of our ocean, it is only 0.1 GPa. So it's safe to say that this sample saw a very large impact.

By evaluating the spectrum (light reflected off its surface, divided by wavelength). Meteorites Comparing them to asteroids and planets in our solar system, it has been suggested that diogenes, including Tatahuin, originate from the second largest asteroid in our asteroid belt, known as 4 Vista.

This asteroid holds interesting information about the early solar system. Many meteorites from 4 Vesta are ancient, about 4 billion c Years. Therefore, they provide a window into past events of the early solar system that we cannot evaluate here on Earth.

Violent past

The latest study looked at 18 diogenes, including Tahtahin, all from Vesta 4. Authors' PledgeRadiometric dating of the argon-argon ageTechniques for determining the ages of meteorites.

This is based on looking at two different isotopes (versions of elements whose nuclei contain more or less particles called neutrons). We know that some argon isotopes in samples increase with age at a known rate, which helps scientists estimate the age of a sample by comparing the ratio between two different isotopes.

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The team also evaluated deformation caused by collisions, called impact events, using a type of electron microscopy technique called Electron backscatter diffraction.

Seven diogenites were analysed.
Seven diogenites were analysed. (F. Jordan et al, CC BY-SA)

By combining age-determination techniques with microscopy technology, the authors were able to map the timing of impact events on 4 Vesta and the early solar system. The study suggests that 4 Vesta experienced continuous impact events until 3.4 billion years ago when a catastrophic event occurred.

This catastrophic event, likely another asteroid impact, produced many smaller asteroids known as “cumulus piles.”Vestoids“Detecting large-scale impact events like this reveals the hostile nature of the early solar system.

These small objects have experienced more collisions that sent material hurtling toward Earth over the past 50 to 60 million years — including the fireball in Tunisia.

Ultimately, this work demonstrates the importance of studying meteorites, as impacts have played a major role in the evolution of asteroids in our solar system.Conversation

Ben Ryder StokesPostdoctoral researcher in chondrite meteorites, The Open University

This article was republished from Conversation Under Creative Commons license. Read the Original article.

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