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Back in 2008, a space rock entered through the skies of Sudan and fragmented as it crashed in the Nubian desert. The lunging thing from the space was called as Almahata Sitta.

It is a troupe of about 600 fragments of a meteorite that were gathered by researchers by working very hard.

Where did the meteorite originate from?

What made Almahata Sitta one of its kind was the fact that it depicted something unusual in the field of astronomy. It helped the scientists to actually know about an asteroid impact even before it happened. Since then, the fragments of the asteroid – known as 2008 TC3 – were carefully analysed by scientists. They began searching for chemical pointers for the origin of the space rock.

Now, a new study has revealed some interesting data. If you observe the splinters of the meteorite, we can come to know about 2008 TC3. It can then inform us about the origins of 2008 TC3 itself. First author and planetary geologist Vicky Hamilton of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado stated, ”

The results of our study indicate that there exists a huge parent body that has abundant water on it. We received just 50-milligrams of Almahata Sitta for analysis. We hooked up and polished the tiny fragment and utilized an infrared microscope to study its make-up.”

What do the scientists have to say about 2008 TC3?

The results of the spectral analysis shocked the scientists. Within the fragment, they found AhS 202, a very rare type of hydrated crystals. It is also called as amphibole. The mineral is formed under intense heat and pressure. It represents something that is impossible to be found in carbonaceous chondrite (CC) meteorites. The results suggested that 2008 TC3 was a part of a really massive object, something identical to  Ceres.

The scientists explained in their paper, “A majority of the parent bodies made up of CC have a diameter of less than 100 kms. They are very small to provide such huge pressures and temperatures as indicated by the mineral within AhS 202.”

Though the humongous parent asteroid doesn’t exist anymore, it existence suggests that there may have been several such objects in our Solar System in the past. Sadly, we are yet to find any evidence that validates their said existence.

Similar to asteroids Ryugu and Bennu, 2008 TC3 is proving that there is much more to be discovered about space rocks. The findings are reported in Nature Astronomy.


Article written by: Adam N. Rivera

Photo credit: NBC News


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