The universe is probably infinite. But scientists around the world do not stop their efforts to study it. It is extremely important to try to understand our past, comprehend the present and try to predict the future. Meteorites remain one of the topics of constant interest. They come to us from deep space, having flown countless years and can carry absolutely unique information.
It was in the hope of such a find that scientists moved to Eastern Siberia. In 2011, a meteorite called “Khatyrka” was discovered in the Koryak Mountains. According to scientists, it fell 10 thousand years ago. The location turned out to be incredibly remote. But the scientists turned out to be “not shy” and decided to get to him. As it turned out later, they did not lose. A single large object was not detected.
The researchers found several fragments that they managed to extract from the clay soil. All of them had a single oxygen isotopic composition, confirming their common meteoritic origin. The age of the most interesting fragment was determined by millions of years. The study of the ancient mineral surprised geophysicists more and more.
Standard crystals inside a meteorite always have a lattice structure that repeats its patterns, creating a material similar to glass. But this mineral was not like an ordinary meteorite. The crystals inside it habitually had a lattice structure, but unlike anything that can be found on Earth, the bonds formed unevenly. Scientists did not immediately realize what they were seeing. They have studied such a structure before.
Only here’s the question – quasicrystals were created artificially by scientists on Earth. Since 1982, they have been synthesized in the laboratory. So for their discovery in 2011, Israeli scientist Dan Shechtman received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Many researchers strongly doubted that they could exist outside the walls of scientific institutions.
But the quasicrystals in the composition of the meteorite found were natural formations that came to the planet from outer space and, in fact, became proof of the existence of a new structural organization of matter. One of those who initially considered the possibility of their origin in natural conditions real was a physicist and cosmologist from Princeton University, Paul Steinhardt. The scientist had few like-minded people. The discovery in Eastern Siberia was a brilliant confirmation of his theory.
Three quasicrystals were found in the meteorite samples. The most interesting of them has the symmetry of an icosahedron with twenty faces, each of which is an equilateral triangle. Externally, the mineral is dark gray in color with some reflective fragments, with a diameter of approximately 0.4 mm. He received the designation “126 A”. Like the other two quasicrystals, it has copper, iron and aluminum in its composition, but the ratio of elements differs in all objects.
With specialized software, scientists have not been able to index the mineral model in any known crystal system. How quasicrystals could form in a meteorite remains a scientific mystery. There is an assumption that two celestial bodies collided in the depths of space, which formed an unequal distribution of pressure and temperature values.
In some parts of the “celestial alien”, the indicators reached very high values. As a result, quasicrystals of unusual symmetry were formed. For people interested in the processes in outer space, it becomes clear once again – everything invented on Earth probably has its embodiment in the interstellar distances. Only humanity, probably, will not grow up to understand the creations of the Universe for a very long time.