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Asteroid in the Sahara Desert comes from a rare supernova explosion

A strange meteorite found in the Sahara Desert is likely the first evidence found on Earth of a rare supernova explosion outside the solar system.

A meteorite in the Sahara desert comes from a rare supernova explosion - photo 1

A fragment of the meteorite Hypatia


In 1996, while working in Sahara Desert, a researcher found a pebble that was later determined to have come from a location outside the solar system. Scientists named it Hypatia meteorite.

In a new report, experts from the University of Johannesburg (South Africa) said that the meteorite is likely to be the first definitive evidence of a Type Ia supersonic explosion, one of the largest energetic outbursts. of the The universe.

The team of scientists drew on the results of years of research by other groups, including reports published in 2013, 2015 and 2018, showing that the Hypatia meteorite did not originate from Earth, an asteroid, comets, or anywhere else in the solar system.

South African experts used a beam of high-energy protons, generated inside a particle accelerator, and identified 15 elements with an unprecedented level of detail. Based on these clues, they in turn hypothesized the possible origin of the Hypatia meteorite, using the method of exclusion.

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The team in turn ruled out sources within the solar system, then elsewhere outside the solar system, from the interstellar dust band of the Sun. Galaxy, a red giant, a Type II supernova. In it, the Type II explosion occurs when a giant star burns out of fuel, collapses, and explodes. However, the composition of the Hypatia meteorite has ruled out all of these possibilities.

Next, the team hypothesized that it was related to the Type Ia supernova explosion, which occurs when a white dwarf in a binary system explodes and the white dwarf is shrunk to atomic size. When these atoms combine with dust from the white dwarf’s nebula, the rock material produced takes on specific chemical properties.

The results show that the chemical traces in the Hypatia meteorite are similar to the clues of the Type Ia supernova explosion.

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