Scientists confirmed Thursday (May 11) that the metallic-looking rock that slammed into the roof of a residential home in Hopewell, New Jersey, earlier this week is indeed a meteorite — a rare rock about 4.6 billion years old.
Nathan Magee, chair of the Department of Physics at the College of New Jersey (TCNJ), whose office was soon called by Hopewell City Police The rock has been found on Monday (May 8), to Space.com.
Chondrites are primitive rocks that make up 85% of meteorites Found on Earth. Most of the chondrites found so far have been discovered in Antarctica. Rarely does a single accident occur in populated areas.
Related: What are meteorites?
The New Jersey rock, about 6 inches long and 4 inches wide (15 by 10 cm), is a notable exception. It crashed into the Hopewell town house, dented the floorboard, punctured two holes in the roof and was still warm when Susie Cobb discovered it in her father’s bedroom on Monday afternoon.
“I look at the ceiling and there are these two holes,” Cobb said, “and I say, ‘What happened here in the world? ” ABC’s Trish Hartman (Opens in a new tab).
Once emergency responders had cleared Cobb, her family, and their home of any harmful radioactive residue, Cobb delivered space rock to the neighboring college for further inspection.
At TCNJ, the Magee team consulted Jerry Delaney, a retired meteorite expert who worked on the meteorite collection at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. The team confirmed that the space rock is about 4.56 billion years old, which means it has been around since the beginning of space our solar system It represents the remaining parts of its creation.
The 2.2-pound (0.9-kilogram) meteorite, which has likely been given the name Titusville, N.J.—the mailing address closest to its landing site—”is in excellent condition, and one of very few famous chondrite falls known to science,” Magee said in statement Thursday.
The upper layer of the meteorite has a black crust a few millimeters thick from partial combustion Earth’s atmosphere. Using a hand lens designed to look closely at the rock, his team found that the metrolite minerals are blue-gray in color, with a small amount of other minerals mixed in, Magee told Space.com.
Rock, rock… who’s there? 🪨 TCNJ Professor of Physics Nate Magee confirmed today that the object that recently crashed into a house not far from campus is indeed from outer space. Read more from the AP: https://t.co/e2zbpQyEf[email protected] #tcnj #tcnjiseverywhere pic.twitter.com/FMXH5YtEeUMay 11, 2023
The team studied the rock’s texture and composition by placing it inside a large chamber of a scanning electron microscope. Based on preliminary estimates, the meteorite is a class LL-6 chondrite, which contains less iron than its other family members and is at least 30 to 40% denser than more common rocks on Earth, such as slate or granite.
“So it was clearly not an earth rock,” Magee told Space.com.
Even before the space rock penetrated the Earth’s atmosphere, it was exposed to a lot of heat in outer space that greatly changed its structure and composition, to the point where it is difficult to easily distinguish the individual grains or cartilages that make up the meteorite. Thursday update (Opens in a new tab).
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