Unusual Microcrystals Discovered in Meteorite Dust

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An investigation using X-ray crystallography and Raman spectroscopy revealed that the carbon crystals have been certainly unusually shaped types of graphite.

The unusual carbon microcrystals have been studied by scientists from Chelyabinsk State University.

On February 15, 2013, above Chelyabinsk in Russia’s Southern Urals, the most important meteorite that was ever seen this century entered the Earth’s environment. Unusually, the meteorite’s floor mud survived its influence and is now the topic of in-depth analysis. Some carbon microcrystals on this mud have odd shapes. A bunch led by Sergey Taskaev and Vladimir Khovaylo from Chelyabinsk State University in Russia has not too long ago revealed a paper on the morphology and simulations of the formation of those crystals within the European Physical Journal Plus.

A meteor’s floor develops meteorite mud because it enters the environment and is subjected to very excessive temperatures and super pressures. The Chelyabinsk meteor was distinctive by way of its measurement, the depth of the air burst it created because it exploded, the scale of the most important items that fell to Earth, and the destruction it prompted. More importantly, it landed on snowy terrain, and the snow helped hold the mud intact.

Taskaev, Khovaylo, and their workforce first noticed micrometer-sized carbon microcrystals on this mud beneath a light-weight microscope. They, due to this fact, examined the identical crystals utilizing scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and located that they took up quite a lot of uncommon shapes: closed, quasi-spherical shells and hexagonal rods. Further evaluation utilizing Raman spectroscopy and X-ray crystallography confirmed that the carbon crystals have been, truly, exotically-shaped types of graphite.

Most possible, these buildings can have been shaped by repeatedly including graphene layers to closed carbon nuclei. The researchers explored this process through molecular dynamics simulations of the growth of a number of such structures. They found two ‘likely suspects’ as nuclei for microcrystal growth: the spherical fullerene (or buckminsterfullerene), C60, and the more complex hexacyclooctadecane (-C18H12-). In concluding, Taskaev and Khovaylo suggest that classifying these crystals could help identify past meteorites.

Reference: “Exotic carbon microcrystals in meteoritic dust of the Chelyabinsk superbolide: experimental investigations and theoretical scenarios of their formation” by Sergey Taskaev, Konstantin Skokov, Vladimir Khovaylo, Wolfgang Donner, Tom Faske, Alexander Dudorov, Nick Gorkavyi, Dmitry S. Muratov, Galina Savosteenko, Alexander Dyakonov, Woohyeon Baek, Artem Kuklin, Pavel Avramov and Oliver Gutfleisch, 7 May 2022, The European Physical Journal Plus.
DOI: 10.1140/epjp/s13360-022-02768-7

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