General, Research, Technology

Meteorites could appear on planets with boiling lava

Scientists are puzzled by the origin of chondras -tiny, mysterious formations found in 90% of meteorites that fall on our planet. According to the new hypothesis about the origin of meteorites, tiny protoplanets covered with lava oceans may have incinerated asteroids as they flew by, simultaneously forming chondras - round small formations of solidified molten silicate. By themselves, such meteorites are called chondrites, and their study will help scientists learn more about the earliest weekdays of our solar system. Despite the fact that of all celestial bodies, chondrites fall on our planet more often than others, their origin is still a mystery.

A lava-covered planet is a hypothetical type of earth-like exoplanet whose surface is partially or completely covered by molten lava.

For a long time it was believed that meteorites, whichcome to Earth, similar to most cosmic stones that travel around the solar system in areas such as the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.


Study presented in June at a meetingThe American Astronomical Society, as The New York Times writes, is noteworthy in that it reflects a description of chondras from the early 19th century as “raindrops of fire.” For the first time, tiny spherical formations called chondrules found in meteorites were described by Henry Clifton Sorby, a 19th-century British mineralogist. The idea that asteroids “bubble” when flying past lava worlds suggests that chondras would be extremely rare - however, they account for about 86% of all meteorites that fell to Earth. It is noteworthy that for the formation of chondras, meteorites must be heated and then cooled very quickly.

It should be noted that the new work has a number ofrestrictions, since there are a large number of questions regarding the origin and formation of chondritis. The authors of the new study note that the formation of chondras is a difficult task, and therefore any research in this area is welcome. It should be noted that a detailed study of the formation of any celestial bodies gives scientists a better understanding of the structure of not only our solar system, but also our universe. So, according to the new theory, chondrites could have formed in the early Solar System as a result of a short unusual event.

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In the course of the work, scientists created a special model,which was able to reproduce the conditions for the formation of chondras. Based on the experiments, the researchers suggested that in the early stages of the development of the solar system, the sun was surrounded by thousands of planetesimals (protoplanets) - stone building blocks of planets, each with a size of at least 16 kilometers. On the surface of some planetesimals, the real lava oceans raged, and their temperature exceeded 1,650 ° С. When rocky asteroids approached these objects, they were heated for a short time by the heat of lava, which led to the rapid melting of certain pieces of asteroids, which were then cooled to form chondra.

A fragment of a chondritic meteorite found inIndia, known as the Semarcon meteorite. Chondras, round pieces in the image, are so dominant in meteorites that the rocks themselves are called chondrites. The origin of this type of meteorites remains a mystery.

If the authors of the new study are right, thenthe consequences of these encounters in the early Solar System are very significant: flights over worlds with lava oceans may not have been so common. This means that chondrites could be quite rare.

Meteorites on earth

As Futurism, instead of the new model assuming that the study of meteorites will allow you to find out how the planets form. However, not all scientists agree with this statement. So, Harold Connolly, an asteroid specialist at Rowan University in New Jersey, estimates that about 15-20% of the chondras appear to have been heated more than once.

Here is an enlarged fragment of a meteorite - ordinary chondrite DHO 556 - in polarized light.

Maybe soon a way will appear to check thishypothesis: two space missions are aimed at returning near-Earth asteroid samples to our planet in the coming years. So, the Hayabusa2 space mission is aimed at collecting samples from the Ryugu asteroid, and OSIRIS-REx, which works with Bennu asteroid, can shed light on the formation of chondrites. However, this will not happen earlier than in 2023.

See also: Can meteorites move at a speed close to the speed of light?

Let me remind you that every year our planet fallsabout 6,100 meteorites that are large enough to reach Earth. Fortunately for us, the vast majority of cosmic stones fall undetected in uninhabited areas. But even more unpleasant news is the belief of many scientists that an asteroid large enough to destroy all life forms on our planet will someday visit Earth again. The consequences, as you know, are unlikely to differ from the events that occurred 60 million years ago, which led to the mass extinction of dinosaurs.