The space rock could come from a Mars-sized protoplanet in the early solar system
Mark Garlick/Science Source
A chunk of space rock may have been forged inside a long-lost planet from the early solar system. Tiny pockets of iron and sulfur embedded in diamonds inside the meteorite probably formed under high pressures found only inside planets the size of Mercury or Mars, researchers suggest April 17 in Nature Communications.
The parent planet no longer exists, though — it was smashed to smithereens in the solar system’s violent infancy.
“We probably have in our hands a piece of one of these first planets that have disappeared,” says Philippe Gillet of École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, or EPFL, in Switzerland.
EPFL physicist Farhang Nabiei, Gillet and their colleagues analyzed minuscule fragments of the Almahata Sitta meteorites. These meteorites are famous for coming from the first-ever