June 18, 2024

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A meteorite fragment pierces the roof of a New Jersey family

At first glance, the avocado rock that Susie Cobb found at her father’s house in New Jersey on Monday might be out of any garden. But upon closer look, it revealed jagged edges that revealed a gray-green interior beneath a charred black crust.

The rock was also warm to the touch and fell from the sky, hitting the house hard enough to rip a hole in the roof and bounce across the room.

Cobb wondered if there was more of a pint-sized wrecking ball that fell in her father’s bedroom. So she and her family asked physicists for answers. On Thursday, researchers at the College of New Jersey confirmed that the rock had fallen from space.

The discovery of a meteorite sparked a wave of excitement in the town of Hopewell, where Cobb’s father lived. Hobbyists have since flocked to the area to search for more meteorite fragments, and they’re not the only ones who have been struck by the stars. Experts said the meteorite provides a valuable opportunity to study the distances of space – it is so rarely discovered.

“It’s nice to have a fun and interesting story suddenly fall out of the blue, literally,” Nathan Magee, chair of the Department of Physics at the College of New Jersey, told The Washington Post.

Cobb’s sister Christine Lloyd confirmed the family had the meteorite but said the family did not wish to discuss any further details.

The researchers determined that the meteorite that hit the family home was LL-6 chondriteA rocky meteorite characterized by the presence of small metal balls inside its body. This species is believed to be about 4.56 billion years old, about the age of the Sun and Earth, and originated from rocks in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, according to a college of NJ press release.

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The meteorite’s journey ended hundreds of millions of miles away, in the drywall of a house in Hopewell, about 40 miles from Philadelphia. No one was hurt Monday when the rock tore a hole in the roof. according to WPVI. Cobb found the little rock lying on the floor of an upstairs bedroom. The rock appears to have been blasted straight through the ceiling before bouncing off the floor and back onto the ceiling, leaving dents all over the room. Cobb told WPVI it was warm to the touch.

The family reported the incident to the police, who contacted researchers at the College of New Jersey. The call reached geophysicist Shannon Graham, who was shocked to learn of such a rare find just a 10-minute drive from the college’s physics department.

“If you ask me, Monday morning, [the] “The top 100 reasons to get a police phone call, ‘meteor’ wasn’t on the list,” Graham said with a laugh.

Graham said Cobb and her family seemed just as curious as to learn more about the suspected meteorite and its origins. The family visited the college on Wednesday to allow Graham, Maggie, and a team of researchers to examine the rock in the lab. Magee said preliminary results confirmed its cosmic origins. The team measured the meteorite’s density. He said it weighs about two pounds and is much denser than most Earth’s rocks. The researchers also examined its structure using electron microscopy. Under a strong lens, the researchers determined the meteorite’s composition and classified it as an LL-6 chondrite.

They also gave the meteorite a temporary name—”Titusville, NJ,” after a community within the town of Hopewell—after a meteorite expert advised the team long-term practice Naming meteorites after a geographic area near where they were recovered.

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The findings from the College of New Jersey confirmed how rare — and serendipitous — Cope’s discovery was. Only about 1,100 LLs have ever been found, according to the college news release, and only 100 of those have been observed falling. Although the meteor was not detected by the satellite sensor in real time, Cobb’s report allowed NASA to review the meteor’s final moments later in flight via weather radar data at the airport. announce.

Magee said Titusville, NJ is particularly valuable because of the wealth of data surrounding its landing. He said further examination of the meteorite’s composition, its flight path and the holes in the ceiling could provide an exceptionally clear picture of its trajectory through the solar system – and possibly help identify the asteroid from which it originated.

Magee extracted another detail from his analysis: The meteorite’s cracked edges that revealed its gray interior indicate that it was separated from a larger meteorite after entering the atmosphere.

Officials in the town of Hopewell asked residents to continue searching for more fragments. in social media mail Tuesday, the town relayed a message from Mike Hanke, director of operations for the American Meteorite Society, encouraging residents to check their doorbell cameras and keep an eye out for other meteors that may be scattered around the area. The announcement added that there was a lot at stake: even floors or building materials damaged by a meteor strike are of great value to collectors.

A spokeswoman for the town said no other meteorite findings had been reported as of Thursday morning. Hanke joined about a dozen meteorite hunters to search the area, but nothing turned up, he told The Post.

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“It’s still early,” Hankey said. “I don’t want to discourage anyone from searching further.”

Magee and Graham said the Cobb family has been inundated with calls from private collectors to buy the rock, but they have no plans to sell it. Magee hopes to conduct additional research on the meteorite with the family’s cooperation.

“They were generous,” Magee said. “We will politely ask for more time with her.”