In Algeria, a piece of a missing protoplanet is discovered

Scientists have long been fascinated by the secrets of planet formation. A scientific curiosity that can be answered by Erg Chech 002 (EC 002), a meteor fragment discovered in the sands of the Algerian Sahara. However, this meteorite does not look like the meteors we usually see.

In fact, scientists discovered that it was a chondrite meteorite. In other words, it is made up of volcanic matter from an object that has undergone an internal fusion process. Therefore, the researchers concluded that it is part of a protoplanet, which is an embryonic planet-like planet that forms in the protoplanetary disk.

Photography by Hans Braxmeer. Pixabay Credits

but that is not all. Scientists also note the age of this meteorite, and it appears to be older than Earth!

EC 002 is 4,566 billion years old

Based on information from ScienceAlert, EC 002, along with several pieces of rock weighing 32 kg, was discovered in the sandy sea in Erg Shish, southwest of Algeria. Once discovered, scientists knew it was not an ordinary meteorite. Most of the meteorites recovered had a chondrite composition due to the mixture of dust and rock during their formation, but EC 002 on its part had a fiery texture with pyroxene crystals.

Thus scientists determined that they were in the presence of the chondrite meteorite, a rather rare finding because according to the Meteoritical Bulletin database, only 3,179 meteorites out of the tens of thousands identified so far are achondrites. And even among Achondrites, EC 002 is a special species because, according to scientists, this meteorite is older than Earth itself given that the meteorite dates back 4.566 billion years ago while Earth is 4.54 billion years old.

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This meteorite also consists of an atypical substance: andesite

Thus researchers certify in their study published in PNAS that: This meteorite is the oldest volcanic rock that has been analyzed so far and sheds light on the function of the primordial crusts that covered the oldest protoplanets. ยป.

A team of scientists led by geochemist Jean-Alex Barratt of the University of Western Brittany in France has also indicated that EC 002 is not made of basalt but rather of a volcanic rock called andesite. The latter consists of sodium-rich silicates and forms in subduction zones. This type of igneous rock is rarely found in meteorites, but scientists have found experimental evidence indicating that the rocks could form from the fusion of a chondrite.

However, this is not a sure thing and scientists hope EC 002 will help us see more clearly in the process of planet formation.




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