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December 15, 2006 12:25 PM   Subscribe

Meteorfilter: Meteorite's Organic Matter Older Than The Sun.
posted by Rufus T. Firefly (29 comments total)

 
I guess it's important to remember that by "organic" they seem to mean "containing carbon." They could have mentioned that in the article.

But interesting nonetheless.
posted by koeselitz at 12:31 PM on December 15, 2006


Cool, literally and astroturfically !

On a tangent : that is not possible earth is like 5k years old god jesus adam and stuff !
posted by elpapacito at 12:40 PM on December 15, 2006


This is really neat, but I'm afraid I'm rather... er... dense in the ways of the meteorite. The article points out that this is the "lowest density meteorite" ever found, and I have no idea what the significance of this would be. Help?
posted by grapefruitmoon at 12:44 PM on December 15, 2006


Old globules.

glŏb'yōōl
posted by Sprocket at 12:45 PM on December 15, 2006


Well, given that "most meteoroids disintegrate when entering the Earth's atmosphere," I imagine that means it's odd that one of low density made it through. But IANAS or anything.
posted by koeselitz at 12:46 PM on December 15, 2006


I'd eat the stuff.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:47 PM on December 15, 2006


I wonder what these "Isotopic anomalies" are.
posted by delmoi at 12:58 PM on December 15, 2006


Oh, Astro Zombie. Is there anything you won't eat?
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:04 PM on December 15, 2006 [1 favorite]


On the subject of meteroids, all of the gold and platinum on earth arrived here in meteors. However, the gold and plantinum in those meteors were originally created in neutron stars. So all the gold on earth is likely to be much older than the sun (well, the atoms of gold which have been combined and melted down countless times).

What makes this find interesting is the possibility that clumps of organic molecules from that pre-solar period survived this long.
posted by Pastabagel at 1:11 PM on December 15, 2006 [3 favorites]


The article points out that this is the "lowest density meteorite" ever found, and I have no idea what the significance of this would be.

A meteorite falls through the atmosphere and crashes into the earth to change designation from meteoroid to meteor to meteorite.

Soft-bodied meteors tend to vaporize or explode from the stress of atmospheric entry or colloiding with a planet. The much more common and denser nickle-iron meteroites are less likely to contain soft bodies like carbon - or fossilized extra-terristrial bacteria.

This is one reason why many space scientists would love to be able to capture and study meteors (as well as their much larger, planetoid brethern asteroids) because they would be much easier to study and much more revealing than a hunk of space rock that burst into flames in the air and then slammed into the ground (or ice) at hundreds or thousands of miles per hour. As such, we don't really know for sure what the bulk of meteors are made of - our knowledge of extra-terrestrial geology is really quite low. What we see in the form of meteorites isn't likely to be an accurate representation of meteors in space - our knowledge of this is skewed by the fact that the meteors more likely to survive entry and re-impact are going to be much denser and more metallic.

This is also the reason why they look for meteorites in the Antarctic and in other areas with glaciers or year-round ice - for one reason the ice provides a nice cushion and clean packaging material, and for another it makes it a lot easier to sort out the meteorites from the plain old earth rocks, because it's at least slightly more rare for plain old earth rocks to end up on top of ice fields.
posted by loquacious at 1:14 PM on December 15, 2006 [1 favorite]


Meteorite? That looks like the frozen remains of Cobra Commander.
posted by Terminal Verbosity at 1:20 PM on December 15, 2006


I guess it's important to remember that by "organic" they seem to mean "containing carbon."

Heh. That reminds me of astronomers talking about metals. What a metal? Well, there's Hydrogen, and there's Helium. Everything else is a metal.
posted by eriko at 1:28 PM on December 15, 2006


Sure, but then the sun is made from stuff that's older than the sun. It's a third generation star. And it's eighth in line in Wikipedia--after Sun Microsystems, sunning (tanning), the Phoenix Suns, etc. Go figure.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 1:40 PM on December 15, 2006


I'm confused about how these things are aged. Are the particles that make up the meteorite actually older than the sun? Or does it mean it was "assembled" before the sun, cohesion-wise?
posted by wigu at 1:42 PM on December 15, 2006


Remembering is easy:

The meteorite is the source of the light,
And the meteor's just what we see;
And the meteoroid is a stone that's devoid of the fire that propelled it to thee.

posted by wemayfreeze at 1:53 PM on December 15, 2006 [1 favorite]


Except that the meteor is the source of the light.
And the meteorite is just what we see, if we're lucky.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 2:06 PM on December 15, 2006


Meteorite schmeteorite, enough with burned objects reenting our polluted atmosphere

Go gadget StarDust go !
posted by elpapacito at 2:06 PM on December 15, 2006


And the fire didn't propel it.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 2:08 PM on December 15, 2006


Heh. That reminds me of astronomers talking about metals. What a metal? Well, there's Hydrogen, and there's Helium. Everything else is a metal.

Actually, hydrogen is a metal.
posted by delmoi at 2:39 PM on December 15, 2006


A meteor would be what we see in the air, and a meteorite is what we see on the ground, and a metoroid is what we see in space.
posted by delmoi at 2:40 PM on December 15, 2006


Except that the meteor is the source of the light.
And the meteorite is just what we see, if we're lucky.


And a meteoroid doesn't become a meteorite until it hits the ground. A meteoroid can plunge in to the atmosphere, become a flaming meteor for a while, and skip out of the atmosphere (just like skipping a stone on a pond) and resume being a meteroid.
posted by loquacious at 2:46 PM on December 15, 2006


I learned it from the Tom Glazer song:

A shooting star, or meteor
Whichever name you like
The minute it comes down to Earth
It's called a meteorite

posted by phooky at 2:51 PM on December 15, 2006


(Oops-- actually, as the link mentions, that song was written by Hy Zaret and Lou Singer.)
posted by phooky at 2:52 PM on December 15, 2006


My favorite Ripley's Believe it or Not entry of all time:

"No meteor has ever hit the earth".

A tautology.
posted by Tube at 4:23 PM on December 15, 2006


Strange how the link also has the news about the world's tallest man saving dolphins, also featured today on Metafilter.
posted by CG at 4:39 PM on December 15, 2006


I wonder what these "Isotopic anomalies" are.

My guess would be that the age was established with K-Ar. The abstract (below) is hard to interpret. I'm gonna have to head to library for this one.

Hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen isotopic compositions are heterogeneous among comet 81P/Wild 2 particle fragments; however, extreme isotopic anomalies are rare, indicating that the comet is not a pristine aggregate of presolar materials. Nonterrestrial nitrogen and neon isotope ratios suggest that indigenous organic matter and highly volatile materials were successfully collected. Except for a single 17-O-enriched circumstellar stardust grain, silicate and oxide minerals have oxygen isotopic compositions consistent with solar system origin. One refractory grain is 16-O-enriched, like refractory inclusions in meteorites, suggesting that Wild 2 contains material formed at high temperature in the inner solar system and transported to the Kuiper belt before comet accretion."
posted by neuron at 8:28 PM on December 15, 2006


Cool post Rufus T. Firefly and wonderful thread.

Pastabagel, your comment is so interesting! Thanks. I really love meteorites and meteors.

You can hear the delightful "What Is a Shooting Star" song here.

We are stardust, we are golden,
We are billion year old carbon...


An amusing (well I think so anyway) pretzelled dialogue about the incorrectness of the Joanna Newson song about meteorite/meteor/meteoroid.

An entertaining, fake (commercial) video of meteorite landing near some guys in the desert. And a couple of awesome YouTube animations about meteors and Earth.
posted by nickyskye at 10:57 PM on December 15, 2006


Actually, hydrogen is a metal.

That's a part of what frustrates chemists talking to astronomers. But on the scale astronomers deal with, the matter of the universe is Hydrogen, Helium, and Everything Else, in that order.

(Possible exception. WIMPs.)
posted by eriko at 6:23 AM on December 16, 2006


Actually, hydrogen is a metal.

Dude, take it to MeteorTalk.
posted by joshuaconner at 11:33 PM on December 22, 2006


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