Scientists discovered pieces of a meteorite that fell near Berlin just after midnight on January 21.
It’s a rare find, coming from one identified just before it entered Earth’s atmosphere. Only a few such events in the recent past have allowed astronomers to trace the origin of a moving rock in the solar system, writes .
Preliminary analysis of the fragments showed something equally rare. The meteorite is an aubrite, a class of unknown origins that some scientists argue may be pieces of the planet Mercury. They are so rare that they made up only 80 of the roughly 70,000 meteorites collected on Earth before last month’s event.
“Is very interesting”, said Sara Russell, a meteorite expert at the Natural History Museum in London. “There are very, very few aubrites“.
The asteroid, which became a meteorite (or rather meteorite fragments), was initially spotted by Krisztián Sárneczky, a Hungarian astronomer, three hours before it hit the Earth’s atmosphere. A network of cameras tracked the moving rock, 2024 BX1, as it fell near Ribbeck, a village outside Berlin. Estimates suggest the rock was small. It did, however, produce a brilliant flash that cameras in many parts of Europe captured.
First videos of the atmospheric entry of asteroid now coming in.
Augustusplatz Live Cam, Leipzig, Germany.
— Drm (@drm0463)
As soon as he heard the news about the meteorite fall, Peter Jenniskens, an astronomer at the SETI Institute in California, bought a plane ticket.
During a nine-hour layover in Newark, Dr. Jenniskens calculated where the pieces of the meteorite might be found, so that when he landed early Monday morning, he and nearly two dozen students and volunteers could immediately begin searching for fragments .
But on that Thursday, January 25, a Polish team of meteor hunters announced that they had found the first piece of meteorite.
Researchers from the Natural History Museum in Berlin analyzed the minerals in the fragments using an electron microprobe. This revealed that the rocks appeared to be clouded. It was the first time such meteorites had been collected in a tracked fall.
However, it is possible that the aubrites were ejected from Mercury long ago into the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, forming a group called E-type asteroids. The orbit of 2024 BX1 does not completely rule out this idea, although Dr. Fries remains skeptical .
Whatever their origin, the fragments of 2024 BX1 are sure to be scientifically fascinating.
Source: New York Times
Tags: meteorite, berlin, mercury,
Publication date: 13-02-2024 08:50
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