Extraterrestrial object holds KEY to solar system formation, exciting scientists | World | News


A chunk of meteor, known as a Hypatia stone, which fell to earth and was found in the Egyptian desert may have been formed when the universe was still taking shape.

The extraterrestrial object may predate the sun and its surrounding planets.

It contains micro-mineral compounds not found elsewhere in the universe, or in known meteorites and comets.

The discovery which could rewrite history books was made by researchers from the University of Johannesburg, who used advanced scanning techniques to analyse Hypatia’s structure.

Some people believe that Hypatia is a surviving fragment of a meteor that existed before our solar system was formed, only to be captured by Earth’s gravity millions of years later.

Others, however, believe that the object formed from the same cosmic dust cloud as the solar system.

If the latter is true, this would question our current model of how this process occurred, which suggests a nebula of equally scattered elements that went on to form the astronomical bodies found in our corner of the cosmos.

Dr Marco Andreoli, a researcher at the University of the Witwatersrand, and a member of the Hypatia research team told the Mail Online: “When Hypatia was first found to be extraterrestrial, it was a sensation, but these latest results are opening up even bigger questions about its origins.

“In the grains within Hypatia, the ratios of elements to each other are completely different from that calculated for the planet Earth or measured in known types of meteorites.

“As such these inclusions are unique within our solar system.”

Hypatia of Alexandria, who the stone is named after, was the first female Western mathematician and astronomer in the fourth century AD and was killed for her futuristic ideas by religious zealots.

The stone was discovered in December 1996 by Egyptian geologist Aly Barakat Barakat, who was researching Libyan Desert Glass.

The substance appears to be similar to sea glass that forms in Earth’s oceans and can be found spread across the eastern Sahara, in the deserts of eastern Libya and western Egypt.

Geologists believe it may have formed 28 million years ago in a meteorite impact.

Dr Barakat immediately recognised the significance of the glossy stone, which is lined with microscopic diamonds.

In 2013, Professor Jan Kramers from the University of Johannesburg as well as his research team announced that Hypatia was definitely not from Earth.

In 2015, other research teams had announced that the stone was not part of any known types of meteorite or comet, based on noble gas and nuclear probe analyses.

The original rock that fell to Earth is believed to have been at least several metres in diameter but disintegrated into small pieces, with the Hypatia stone being one.

The stone is also broken into smaller sections, which are roughly one centimetre in size.

The number of chemicals in the object was distinct from anything else that has previously been studied.

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