Scientists find meteorite that contains interstellar material older than the Sun

Researchers found a remarkable interstellar material older than the solar system.

Meteorite that contains interstellar material older than the Sun.
Meteorite that contains interstellar material older than the Sun.

The Allende meteorite

A meteorite that fell to Earth half a century ago leaves the scientific community breathless. It has been discovered that this meteor contains material created before the Sun was born, which has shaken up the strong hypotheses that until now have been held by those who research this type of physics.

It is called Allende and it crashed into our planet in 1969, specifically in a desert in Mexico during a rain of burning space fragments. There was a great surprise with the discovery of interstellar material, in its interior that was older than the solar system itself. 

This is a very similar case to the meteorite that fell in Australia in the same year.

As scientists at Washington University in St. Louis have discovered, the sample of matter created before the birth of the Sun found inside Allende, often referred to as "presolar grains," contradicts what we thought we knew about interstellar material traveling long distances in space.

This meteorite contains silicon carbide (SiC) inside, specifically in an inclusion called Curious Marie (after Marie Curie), which is a type of inclusion rich in calcium and aluminum. "What is surprising is that presolar grains are present," said the researcher in physics and cosmochemistry in charge of the investigation, Olga pravdivtseva.

The surprise is due to the fact that the calcium- and aluminium-rich inclusions were formed, according to the scientists, under conditions of extreme heat caused by the solar nebula that led to the creation of the Sun and the solar system. Therefore, Allende's grains, composed of SiC, should have been disintegrated.

"It is widely accepted that calcium- and aluminum-rich inclusions formed near the Sun at temperatures above 1,500 degrees Kelvin [1,227 degrees Celsius], where presolar grains would not have been able to survive," said the experts in charge of the research.

For now, the scientific community does not understand how silicon carbide from another star could have been introduced into the Allende meteorite, but the truth is that it did, and that invites reflection and, perhaps, changes in what we think we know about chemistry in the early stages of the solar system.

"Although the calcium- and aluminium-rich inclusions have been studied in depth, there are still unknowns regarding the nature and origin of the isotopic anomalies they present," the researchers have reported.

The Allende meteorite owes its name to the Mexican village of the same name where it fell after it disintegrated in the atmosphere, an exhaustive search was carried out to collect its fragments, for which it is currently considered "the most studied meteorite in history".

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