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4.6 billion-year-old meteorite discovered after it smashed through the roof of a house

Published May 21st, 2023 9:04AM EDT
Comet, asteroid, meteorite flying to the planet Earth
Image: Tryfonov/Adobe

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A rock that smashed into a home in New Jersey this year has been confirmed as a rare meteorite believed to be roughly 4.6 billion years old. The confirmation comes after much testing and observation of the small rock, which scientists say is a class of meteorite known as a stony chondrite.

Nathan Magee, the chair of the physics department at the College of New Jersey (TCNJ), was contacted to inspect the rock after Hopewell Township police responded to the discovery. The rock was originally found on May 8, and confirmation that it was indeed a meteorite came just a few days later, on May 11.

Chondrites are believed to make up 85 percent of meteorites found on Earth. These primitive rocks have been found all over the world, though it is rare for a meteorite like this to crash into a populated area, as most of these meteorites have been uncovered in more remote regions like Antarctica.

The meteorite measures roughly six inches long by four inches wide, according to AP. The rock is a notable exception to the way chondrites are usually discovered, as this meteorite punched a hole through the ceiling of a house in Hopewell Township, dented the floorboard where it landed, and was still warm when it was discovered in one of the occupants’ bedrooms.

Because of its age, the rare meteorite is believed to have existed since the beginning of our solar system. As such, it could represent some of the fragments of our solar system’s creation. Scientists could, therefore, learn a bit about the origin of life on Earth and how our solar system was birthed by studying the rock, its makeup, and any other data they can pull from it.

Unfortunately, due to the heat that the rock endured both in space and entering Earth’s atmosphere, the rock’s surface has been heavily altered, and it is challenging to make up the individual grains of the rock’s makeup. Still, it is quite the discovery.

Josh Hawkins has been writing for over a decade, covering science, gaming, and tech culture. He also is a top-rated product reviewer with experience in extensively researched product comparisons, headphones, and gaming devices.

Whenever he isn’t busy writing about tech or gadgets, he can usually be found enjoying a new world in a video game, or tinkering with something on his computer.

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