SunstarTV Bureau: The rare meteorite, estimated to be 4.6 billion years old, was found by a team led by Jean-Alix Barrat of Université de Bretagne Occidentale. Results of the study have been published in PNAS.
Named Erg Chech 002 (EC 002), after the Algerian site where it was discovered, the rock is a rare artefact from a protoplanet – a large body of matter in orbit around the Sun or another star, and believed to be developing into a planet — that was likely forming when the solar system was a young 2 million years old.
The solar system with all its planets was considered to have evolved to its current structure about 4.57 billion years ago, while the Sun formed first, over 4.6 billion years ago.
The team behind the findings, led by Jean-Alix Barrat of the Université de Bretagne Occidentale, France, speculates that this astronomical body would have either been destroyed or absorbed by bigger rocky planets as they formed closer to the Sun.
The results of the meteorite study were published in a journal PNAS this month.
The meteorite was part of a group that was recovered in May 2020 near Bir Ben Takoul, southern Algeria, within the Erg Chech sand sea. The stones are described as having a “coarse grained, tan and beige appearance” interspersed with crystals that are green, yellow-green, and yellow-brown. They are igneous in nature, which means they formed from molten rock or magma.
A rock like EC 002 is a relic from the very early days of the solar system, and most of the material from the time has since become a part of other bodies that have evolved to form planets or asteroids, from which we have plenty of meteorites today. No known asteroid or meteorite looks like EC 002, indicating how rare the finding is, and how these rocks likely do not exist anymore.