The Chelyabinsk meteorite either collided with another body in the solar system or came too close to the Sun before it fell to Earth, according to research announced today at the Goldschmidt conference in Florence.
A team from the Institute of Geology and Mineralogy (IGM) in Novosibirsk have analysed fragments of the meteorite, the main body of which fell to the bottom of the Chebarkul Lake near Chelyabinsk on 15 February this year.
Although all of the fragments are composed of the same minerals, the structure and texture of some fragments show that the meteorite had undergone an intensive melting process before it was subjected to extremely high temperatures on entering the Earth’s atmosphere.
“The meteorite which landed near Chelyabinsk is a type known as an LL5 chondrite and it’s fairly common for these to have undergone a melting process before they fall to Earth,” says Dr Victor Sharygin from IGM, who is presenting the research at the Goldschmidt conference. “This almost certainly means that there was a collision between the Chelyabinsk meteorite and another body in the solar system or a near miss with the Sun.”
Based on their colour and structure, the IGM researchers have divided the meteorite fragments into three types: light, dark and intermediate. The lighter fragments are the most commonly found, but the dark fragments are found in increasing numbers along the meteorite’s trajectory, with the greatest number found close to where it hit the Earth.
Read more at: Phys.org