The strange mystery of the stone of alien origin gives scientists a headache

In 1996, archaeologists found a strange stone in southern Egypt. It was soon identified as an object from outer space, with the name Hypatia.

However, things don’t stop there. In a newly published study, the Hypatia stone is truly mysterious. It originates from outer space, but its structure is unlike any meteorite or asteroid. The stone’s composition includes microscopic minerals unlike anything found in the solar system. It’s a discovery that has caused a lot of concern for researchers studying the formation of the solar system.

Viên đá được giới khoa học tìm thấy vào năm 1996. Ảnh: VnExpress

The Hypatia stone was found in southwestern Egypt in Alexandria in the 4th and 5th centuries. A team of researchers from the University of Johannesburg, South Africa, analyzed the stone’s carbon matrix and found it lacked silicates. . It is this characteristic that makes the Hypatia stone different from other interplanetary materials that have fallen to Earth. The stone also contains minerals that appear to predate the Sun. Researchers compared the stone’s internal structure to a fruitcake that crumbled after falling off the shelf.

The stone is like a small piece of the original “cake”. The object was estimated to be several meters in diameter. However, the composition of the stone reveals much about the object as a whole. Non-metallic meteorites called chondrites resemble Earth in many ways, containing a small amount of carbon and a lot of silicon. Hypatia is the exact opposite, containing a lot of carbon and a very small amount of silicon.

“Even more unusual is that this matrix contains high amounts of a very special carbon compound called polyaromatic hydrocarbon, or PAH, the main component of interstellar dust, which existed before the formation of the solar system. Interstellar dust are also found in comets and meteorites that have not been heated for a long time in their history,” said Jan Kramers, lead author of the study published in the February issue of the journal Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta.

Some PAH compounds in Hypatia form diamonds smaller than one micrometer, possibly from impacts with Earth. The team also found aluminum in pure metallic form, which is rare in the solar system, silicon carbide and silver iodide phosphide in unexpected forms, and a compound containing mostly phosphorus and nickel.

The above characteristics indicate that Hypatia is made of materials that predate the Sun, but the stone itself may have formed after the Sun, because a dense cloud like the solar nebula is needed to create a larger object.

“Hypatia forms in a cold environment, possibly at temperatures lower than liquid nitrogen on Earth (-196 degrees Celsius). In our solar system, it is much farther away than the asteroid belt planet between Mars and Jupiter, where most meteorites come from,” Kramers said.

“Comets come mainly from the Kuiper belt, beyond the orbit of Neptune and about 40 times farther than the distance from the Earth to the Sun. Some come from the Oort cloud, even farther away. They I know very little about the chemical composition of celestial bodies out there. Therefore, our next goal is to learn more about the origin of Hypatia”, Kramers shared.

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