Scientists have identified a carbonaceous mineral formed in the bowels of a long-dead "embryo" of the planet.
Back in 1951, a meteorite was discovered in the province of Victoria, in the far southeast of Australia, which is now in a local museum. Until now, scientists are cautiously examining the 220-gram sample, of which only 71 grams are left today. The Museum of Victoria carefully controls the "consumption" of the rare meteorite and only in 2018 approved the transfer of a small amount for study to the Californian mineralogists Chi Ma and Alan Rubin. The scientists presented the results of this work in an article published in the American Mineralogist.
According to them, in the depths of the sample it was possible to find and describe a previously unknown mineral, which was named edscottite - in honor of the famous researcher of meteorites and "space" chemistry Edward Scott, who works at the University of Hawaii. Scientists believe that the mineral was formed by the interaction of iron and carbon atoms during the slow cooling of the meteorite. Similar structures are formed for a short time during steel smelting, however, they can be called a full-fledged mineral only now, when such a sample was discovered in natural conditions.
The authors suggest that the unique meteorite is a fragment of a planetesimal that appeared during the youth of the solar system, but never managed to become a full-fledged planet. Edscottite could have formed in it under the influence of high temperatures caused by the radioactivity of heavy elements. Our Earth was once the same, but this planet was not destined to grow. An accidental cosmic catastrophe - most likely a collision with another massive body - destroyed the embryo of the future world, and the debris from it scattered throughout the solar system. Most of them, apparently, were absorbed by planets and satellites, burned up in the Sun, but many of them remained in the asteroid belt. And at least one has come down to us, being in the Australian museum.