A stone discovered in 1996 is puzzling researchers to this day. Named after the ancient female philosopher, Hypatia of Alexandria, the stone has been the subject of intense debate mainly because its composition is not of this world. A recent analysis of the Hypatia stone revealed that the alien rock did not originate from any known comet or meteorite. More so, the diamond stone contains certain compounds that predate even the Sun itself.
Researchers first discovered the Hypatia stone in the Libyan Desert Glass Field in Egypt, and previous analyses of the pebble showed micromineral compounds that aren’t present anywhere in the world. Not only that, but its composition could not be traced to any spot in the solar system as well.
According to a new study published in the journal, Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, the cosmic rock doesn’t contain silicate minerals, the most common of Earth’s ingredients. The paper also discovered that the Hypatia stone contains silicon carbide, silver iodine phosphide, as well as a compound composed of nickel and phosphorous. This composition is so peculiar, that no other previously discovered alien materials were found to contain this mineral make-up.
While researchers believe the Hypatia stone to have formed after the solar system, its features were found to be older than the Sun.
The recent discovery adds a new layer of mystery to the formation of our solar as well as how the Hypatia stone came to be.
Jan Kramers, a professor at the University of Johannesburg and lead author of the study, pointed out the rock’s lack of silicate minerals, saying that silicates are predominantly found in chondritic meteorites. These compound are believed to be the oldest and most primitive materials in the solar system.
“A lack of silicate matter sets the stone apart from interplanetary dust particles and known cometary materials,” notes Professor Kramers.
The author and his team think that the cosmic pebble formed in a cold environment, at temperatures below that of liquid nitrogen. Thus, they believe that the Hypatia Stone was formed further out in space, between Mars and Jupiter. However, this is only an assumption as the stone still holds a lot more mysteries that could shed light on the formation of our solar system.
Image Source: Nasa