TechAncient meteorite reveals new secrets about the solar system's birth

Ancient meteorite reveals new secrets about the solar system's birth

A small piece of Erg Chech 002
A small piece of Erg Chech 002
Images source: © Jurij Amelina

10:04 AM EST, January 16, 2024

The intriguing object is a meteorite aptly named Erg Chech 002. It was unearthed in 2020 from the sands of the Erg Chech desert in Southwestern Algeria. From the onset, it has captivated scientists globally. With each subsequent analysis, more intriguing insights surface.

An Exceptional Time Capsule

Meteorites serve as unique time capsules that preserve the enigmas of the past. They are labeled as such because they embody an untouched sample of the solar system, with their composition remaining unaltered for billions of years. Scientists study meteorites to determine the primary materials from which they were formed and when this formation took place.

Erg Chech 002 is a rock containing an exceptional composition tied to magmatic activity. Specialists deduced from this that it was once a part of a planet in its formation stage, abruptly halted. The team of scientists from the Australian National University utilized this information to infer the distribution of aluminum-26 (a byproduct of the violent death of colossal stars, despite having a short half-life) across the solar nebula.

An Ancient Visitor

Initial suspicions suggesting that Erg Chech 002 dates back to 4.566 billion years were confirmed. The Australian team took this a notch higher by comparing it with other similarly preserved meteorites.

It was revealed that Erg Chech 002 contains significantly more aluminum-26 than other comparable rocks. Scientists interpret this to mean that aluminum-26 was unevenly distributed across the solar nebula. Erg Chech 002 presents a fresh perspective on how primitive crusts formed to envelop the oldest protoplanets.

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