Libyan desert glass is a material of unknown origin scattered across a large swath of the Sahara. Among it, scientists found Hypatia stones, a strange phosphorous-nickel alloy recently determined to be extra-terrestrial.
Named after the classical astronomer, Hypatia isn't the only strange mineral found in the area, long thought to be the site of a meteor impact. A remarkably detailed photo by Mario di Martino shows five known fragments of the variegated mineral.
Lead author Georgy Belyanin told Science Daily:
Supporting the pre-solar concept is the weird composition of the nickel-phosphorus-iron grains found in the Hypatia inclusions. These three chemical elements are interesting because they belong to the subset of chemical elements heavier than carbon and nitrogen which form the bulk of all the rocky planets.
"In the grains within Hypatia the ratios of these three elements to each other are completely different from that calculated for the planet Earth or measured in known types of meteorites. As such these inclusions are unique within our solar system," adds Belyanin.
"We think the nickel-phosphorus-iron grains formed pre-solar, because they are inside the matrix, and are unlikely to have been modified by shock such as collision with the Earth's atmosphere or surface, and also because their composition is so alien to our solar system," he adds.
• Extra-terrestrial Hypatia stone rattles solar system status quo (Science Daily)