Somewhere in the range of 2015 and 2019, specialists found 31 new carbon minerals, the vast majority of them vividly colorful. Edscottite is one of the least gaudy new finds, but on the other hand, the one’s set geologists abuzz.
Edscottite is one of the phases of iron experiences when it’s cooling down from a high temperature, as it’s purified into steel. In any case, the edscottite found in a minor meteorite and formally named for the current year is the first to happen in nature.
The Wedderburn meteorite’s been sitting in Museums Victoria in Australia since it was discovered close by in 1951, and analysts have sliced it open to look through its contents similarly as long.
“We have discovered 500,000 to 600,000 minerals in the lab, but fewer than 6,000 that nature’s done itself,” Stuart Mills, Museums Victoria’s senior curator of geosciences, told Melbourne newspaper The Age.
It’s named for Ed R.D. Scott, a cosmochemist at the University of Hawaii at Manoa and pioneering meteorite analyst. He originally distinguished the unique iron carbide in 1971 while studying the meteorite, however, technology hadn’t progressed far enough for him to characterize its structure.
Scientists Chi Ma of Caltech and Alan Rubin at UCLA examined a slab of the meteorite and were astonished to discover edscottite under an electron microscope.
Exactly how it formed is as yet misty. Geoffrey Bonning, a planetary researcher at the Australian National University who was not engaged with the study, speculated to The Age that it was blasted out of the core of another planet.
The hypothetical planet, he said, formed when asteroids clumped into one major planet. The planet warmed up during its formation, and hot metal trickled into its core.
“This meteorite had an abundance of carbon in it. And as it slowly cooled down, the iron and carbon came together and formed this mineral,” Mills said.
In the end, the planet might’ve been struck by another astronomical body and destroyed, flinging the debris across the solar system.
The debris, Bonning posited, became the Wedderburn meteorite. The edscottite might’ve been made when all that metal warmed up on the previous planet.
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