It is a mineral never seen before. For the experts an “alien” mineral, which in nature – so far – does not exist. They discovered it in a 210-gram meteorite found just outside the Australian city of Wedderburn . The mineral, called “edscottite”, is a rare form of iron carbide: probably born from a cosmic collision, it was officially recognized by the International Mineralogical Association (IMA), since the only known form so far was its counterpart synthetic obtained during the iron melting process.
To describe it for the first time is the study published in the journal American Mineralogist by the researcher Chi Ma of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). This is the last of a long series of research on space stone since the day of its discovery in 1951.
The red and black rock has in fact been dissected and examined so many times that by now the original specimen remains only a third, preserved among the collections of the Museums of Victoria in Australia . The results obtained so far had revealed the presence of gold and iron, along with other rare minerals such as troilite and camacite.
The list now gets longer with the discovery of edscottite, named in honor of meteor expert Edward Scott of the University of Hawaii .
His discovery is a significant event, considering that so far around 600,000 minerals have been discovered in the laboratory and less than 6,000 in nature, as the expert Stuart Mills of the Victoria Museums explains.
What is the origin of Wedderburn’s alien mineral, however, is still not known: according to a first hypothesis, it could have been formed under extreme temperature and pressure conditions inside the heart of an ancient planet, then destroyed by collision with another celestial body.