After analysing minerals from 43 rare meteorites that landed on Earth 470 million years ago, a team of scientists proposes to revise the current understanding of the history and development of the solar system.
There was a giant collision in outer space 460 million years ago. Something hit an asteroid and broke it apart, sending chunks of rock falling to Earth as meteorites since before the time of the dinosaurs.
The discovery confirms the hypothesis presented by geology professor Birger Schmitz at Lund University in Sweden. He found what he referred to as an "extinct meteorite" – a meteorite dinosaur – which was named "Osterplana 065".
The term 'extinct' was used because of its unusual composition, different from all known groups of meteorites, and because it originated from a celestial body that was destroyed in ancient times.
The discovery led to the hypothesis that the flow of meteorites may have been completely different 470 million years ago compared to today, as meteorites with such a composition no longer fall on Earth.
"The new results confirm the hypothesis. Based on 43 micrometeorites, which are as old as Österplana 065, the new study shows that back then, the flow was actually dramatically different," said Schmitz.
Schmitz conducted the study with colleagues at Lund University, the University of Chicago, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
"We can now recreate late history of not only the Earth but of the entire solar system. The scientific value of this new report is greater than the one last summer", Schmitz added in a paper published in the journal Nature Astronomy.
"We found that the meteorite flux, the variety of meteorites falling to Earth, was very, very different from what we see today," added the paper's lead author Philipp Heck of The Field Museum in Chicago.