#It is quite logical to think that we do not know all the asteroids that are in the #Solar #System, but is it possible that we have overlooked one so large that it can be considered a small planet like #Ceres? #That is precisely what a study says after analyzing a meteorite fragment.
The #Almahata #Sitta meteorite (2008 TC-3 by its official name) was a rock of 80 tons and 4.1 meters in diameter that disintegrated in the atmosphere about 37 km above the #Nubian desert, in #Sudan, in 2008. The explosion covered the sand of valuable meteorite fragments.
#In total, about 600 fragments between one and 10 cm were recovered. These fragments have been of vital importance to science because the meteorite from which it came was carbonic chondrite, a type of rock whose formation dates back to the early stages of the #Solar #System.
A team of scientists has managed to get hold of a tiny 50-milligram piece of 2008 TC-3 for study. The results of the analysis have just been published in the magazine #Nature and they are fascinating. #What the researchers have found are samples of amphiboles, a very specific group of silicates. The presence of these minerals tells a very specific story, because amphiboles only form under very long pressure conditions and only in the presence of water.
#Amphiboles are very rare to find in a meteorite. #In fact until now they had only appeared in a known meteorite, that of #Allende which fell over #Chihuahua in 1969. #What the presence of these minerals means is that the #Almahata #Sitta meteorite was just a fragment of a much larger object. #For the conditions necessary for amphiboles to form, the researchers calculate that this object has to be an asteroid between 640 and 1,800 km in diameter. #That puts the object in the range of what we know as dwarf planets. #Ceres, to cite the most immediate reference in this category, is 945km in diameter.
#Ceres is very difficult to observe from #Earth due to its small size and lack of brightness. #If we know a lot about him it is thanks to the fact that the probe visited him #Dawn. The existence of an asteroid as large as #Ceres is not something at all impossible. [#Sci-News]
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