In 1996, scientists discovered what may be the strangest stone ever found, in an equally strange section of the Sahara desert that’s littered with unique yellow glass. Nicknamed the Hypatia stone, the relic was later found to be extraterrestrial in origin, but was unlike any known kind of meteorite or comet. A new study has deepened the mystery even further, finding that Hypatia could predate the formation of the Solar System, or have interstellar origins.
An interesting read, even for me who is not normally an extraterrestrial aficionado.
> “Even more unusual, the matrix contains a high amount of very specific carbon compounds, called polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAH)”
Not that unusual, both carbonaceous chondrites and comet nuclei are rich in PAHs.
> “The aluminum occurs in pure metallic form, on its own, not in a chemical compound with other elements,” explains Georgy Belyanin, first author of the study. “This occurrence is extremely rare on Earth and the rest of our solar system, as far as is known in science. We also found silver iodine phosphide and moissanite (silicon carbide) grains, again in highly unexpected forms. The grains are the first documented to be found in situ without having to first dissolve the surrounding rock with acid. There are also grains of a compound consisting of mainly nickel and phosphorus, with very little iron; a mineral composition never observed before on Earth or in meteorites.”
Now we’re getting interesting.
Petrography of the carbonaceous, diamond-bearing stone “Hypatia” from southwest Egypt: A contribution to the debate on its origin
>“The stone named “Hypatia” found in the Libyan Desert Glass area of southwest Egypt is carbon-dominated and rich in microdiamonds. Previous noble gas and nitrogen isotope studies suggest an extraterrestrial origin. … These values are similar to those of the most primitive solar system carbonaceous matter. The diamond phase is considered to be a product of shock. The (Fe, Ni) sulphide phase is probably pyrrhotite and a shock origin is likewise proposed for it. Moissanite is frequently associated with the Ni-phosphide phase, and a presolar origin for both is suggested. The lack of recrystallization of the Ni-phosphide phase suggests that the Hypatia stone did not experience long-lasting thermal metamorphism.”
Material from outside the solar system is very rare.