Scientists say they’ve discovered a new kind of meteorite that was unearthed in a Swedish quarry.
Writing in the journal Nature Communications, researchers from the University of California, Davis say the meteorite, which is called Ost 65, is “chemically distinct from all known meteorite types.”
"In our entire civilization, we have collected over 50,000 meteorites, and no one has seen anything like this one before," said study co-author Qing-zhu Yin, Professor of geochemistry and planetary sciences at UC Davis. "Discovering a new type of meteorite is very, very exciting."
Ost 65, researchers say, is likely to have come from the “missing partner” of a huge asteroid collision that took place 470 million years ago that caused debris to shower Earth for over a million years.
The other asteroid involved in the collision was the L-chondrites, the most common type of meteorites.
The rain of meteors — which fell at 100 times the rate they do now — could have led to a blossoming of new life on Earth during the Ordovician Period, which began 488 million years ago and lasted for 45 million years.
"I think this shows the interconnectedness of the entire solar system in space and time, that a random collision 470 million years ago in the asteroid belt could dictate the evolutionary path of species here on Earth," Yin said.
Discovered in the Thorsberg quarry, Ost 65 is considered a fossil meteor. It measures just over 10 centimeters in diameter and “looks like a gray cow patty plopped into a pristine layer of fossil-rich pink limestone,” researchers say.
It’s called a fossil because much of the original material is “completely altered,” except for spinels and chromite, two minerals. A chemical analysis, however, revealed that Ost 65 was different.
Researchers were able to ascertain the age of the meteorite by measuring how long it was exposed to cosmic rays.They believe it floated through space for about a million years before finally falling to Earth. This matches with the age of the other L-chondrite meteorites found in the same quarry.