In the scientific study, the results of which were recently published in Nature Astronomy, a team of scientists from the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, Southwest Research Institute, reached out to new and exciting information about the asteroid that exploded in the Earth’s atmosphere and fell off its fragments in the Nubian desert in Sudan.
The Mysterious Visitor
In 2008, a 9-ton, 13-foot-diameter asteroid entered Earth’s atmosphere and exploded into fragments of a total of 600 meteorite pieces across the vast and arid expanses of the Nubian Desert. This impulsive object became known as “Almahata Sitta”, due to the site where it fell in the Wadi Halfa region at a railway station in the Nuba desert.
Since then, fragments of that asteroid called “TC3 2008” (2008 TC3) have been analyzed by researchers, looking for chemical clues to the origins of this mysterious, distant visitor. Scientists have discovered, during their analysis of the remnants of the “Station Six” meteorite, quantities of diamonds that originate in a “lost” planet that was orbiting the Solar System in the past.
In the ten years after its fall, the analysis of “Station Six” meteorites helped inform scientists about the nature of protoplanets, the building blocks of the present terrestrial planets that inhabited the early solar system.
According to a press release issued by the Southwest Research Institute, after studying and analyzing fragments of the asteroid “TC3 2008”, the team of scientists concluded that this unknown asteroid was orbiting the sun during the early days of our solar system.
The meteor segment indicates that the asteroid was likely belonging to a much larger body, in the same class as Ceres: the dwarf planet, which is the largest known object in the solar system, and is located in the main asteroid belt, between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.
The researchers also found inside the small fragment of the asteroid an unusual crystal structure that could not be inside an asteroid, which is evidence of a solar system whose composition has changed dramatically since its birth 4.5 billion years ago.
It is noteworthy that there is a famous theory developed by scientists confirming that the first solar system once contained many planets, some of which were probably more than a mass of liquid lava.
The Southwest Research Institute confirms in its statement that asteroids and meteorites are remnants of the formation of our solar system 4.6 billion years ago, and most of them reside in the main asteroid belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, but collisions and other events led to their breaking and expelling the remains to the inner solar system.
“Our surprising results indicate the existence of a large body rich in water,” says lead author and planetary geologist Vicky Hamilton of the Southwest Research Institute.
According to the institute’s statement, the members of the scientific team analyzed the smallest fragments of wonderful space rocks from the “sixth station” meteor, which is 50 mg, using an infrared microscope.
The spectroscopy revealed something that scientists had not expected to find in the crust – an extremely rare form of aqueous crystal, known as amphibole, that needed long exposure to water in order to evolve. “Some of these meteorites are dominated by minerals that provide evidence of exposure to water at lower temperatures and pressures,” Hamilton says.