The strange chemistry of this Space Rock suggests that it came from a supernova

Fragment of a rock in Hypatia.

In 1996, a rock from space was found in the Great Sand Sea of ​​southwestern Egypt. The rock was strange, even by extraterrestrial standards, and a team of researchers studying the chemistry of rock now I suggest that it came from a supernova — the brilliant, explosive collapse of a star.

The rock is called Hypatia, by a 4th century Egyptian mathematician. Based on the design of 15 elements in a sample of 3 grams of stone, a The team of researchers suspects that Hypatia came from far beyond our stellar neighborhood and emerged from the gas and dust remnants that followed the explosion of a distant star. Theirs research is published in the magazine Icarus.

Researchers believe that Hypatia came from a type Ia supernova. these supernovae occur when white dwarfs (the small, dense remnants of stars) consume so much material, often from a neighboring star, that explode. This distinguishes Typa Ia from type II supernovae, in which the nucleus of a large star collapses, causing a huge explosion.

“In a sense, we could say, we have ‘caught’ a supernova Ia explosion ‘in practice’, because the gas atoms were caught in the environment in a cloud of dust, which eventually formed the mother body of Hypatia,” he said. Jan. Kramers, a geochemist at the University of Johannesburg, at a university release.

According to the release, the mixture of gas atoms from the supernova and the dust in which the explosion occurred probably formed a solid rock around the early stages of our solar system, billions of years ago. Upon entering and hitting the Earth, the mother rock of Hypatia broke, creating the fragment found in 1996.

A distant remnant of the Typa Ia supernova.

Kramers has been studying Hypatia for almost a decade. In 2013, isotopes of crude argon from the rock confirmed the extraterrestrial origin of Hypatia and follow-up studies in 2015 and 2018 showed that Hypatia did not originate from either a known comet or meteorite or from ours.olar ssystem. Using one micro proton detector, the team inspected the elementary makeup of Hypatia. They found that evidence from the rock showed that it did not even come from interstellar dust on our arm of the Galaxy.

Hypatia had too much iron to come from a Type II supernova or a red giant star. Thus, the researchers hypothesized that the most likely explanation for Hypatia’s unique combination of silicon, sulfur, calcium, titanium, vanadium, chromium, manganese, iron and nickel was a Type Ia supernova.

Six elements were much more present than what the models predict for something that came from a Type Ia supernova, however: aluminum, phosphorus, chlorine, potassium, zinc and copper. Kramers believes Hypatia may have inherited these elemental ingredients from the red giant star that preceded the white dwarf that eventually exploded.

New the research was merely exploratory, and fuAnother isotope analysis of the data will be required in Hypatia in order to test the researchersmall’ case for the origin of the rock.

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