Stone found is Egyptian desert formed in supernova explosion outside our solar system according to article published this week in the newspaper Icarus.
Called “Hypatia” after an egyptian female astronomerthe stone was discovered in 1996 in the Great Sea of Sand in southwestern Egypt.
Now, a three-gram sample has been determined to be totally unlike anything in our solar system or even the Milky Way.
This may be the first evidence on Earth of a Type Ia supernova explosion, a particularly rare supernova – a star that explodes in binary systems in which one of the stars is a white dwarf. They are among the brightest events in the entire universe.
A group of chemists from the University of Johannesburg, South Africa, have been analyzing the piece of Hypatia forensically since 2013.
Their hypothesis – and Hypatia’s timeline – goes like this:
- A red giant star inside a dust cloud has collapsed into a white dwarf star.
- This white dwarf became part of a binary system with another star, which it eventually consumed.
- The white dwarf star then exploded into a type Ia supernova.
- The gas atoms from the explosion were captured in the dust cloud, which eventually formed Hypatia’s parent body.
- A large bubble of this gas and dust gradually became solid rock in the far reaches of our solar system, just as it was forming about 4.6 billion years ago.
- This rock rushed towards Earth, hitting the atmosphere and the desert and breaking apart.
“If this hypothesis is correct, the Hypatia Stone would be the first tangible evidence on Earth of a Type Ia supernova explosion,” said Jan Kramers of the University of Johannesburg. “Perhaps equally important, it shows that an anomalous individual package of dust from outer space could actually be incorporated into the solar nebula from which our solar system was formed, without being completely mixed together. ”
During their experiments, Hypatia was found to contain only 1% of the silicon, chromium, and manganese it would have had it formed in our inner solar system. It also contains too much iron, sulfur, phosphorus, copper and vanadium. “We found a consistent pattern of trace element abundance that is completely unlike anything in the solar system, primitive or evolved,” Kramers said. Asteroid belt objects and meteors don’t match it either, nor does the interstellar dust in our arm of the Milky Way galaxy.
Nor is it a red supergiant star, which is common in the universe – it contains too much iron and not enough silicon. Ditto for a type II supernova.
However, Hypatia fits the profile of a Type Ia supernova, which occurs once or twice per galaxy per century and is responsible for creating most of the iron in the universe.
I wish you clear skies and big eyes.