Meteorite fragment punched through New Jersey family’s roof

At first glance, the butter-sized rock Susie Cobb found Monday at her father’s New Jersey home could have been from any garden. But on closer inspection, jagged edges revealed a gray-green interior beneath a charred, black crust.

The rock was also hot to the touch and fell from the sky, hitting the house with enough force to punch a hole through the roof and ricochet across the room.

Cobb wondered if the pint-sized wrecking ball that landed in his father’s bedroom was more. So she and her family turned to physicists for answers. On Thursday, researchers at the College of New Jersey confirmed that the rock fell from space.

The discovery of a meteorite sent a wave of excitement through Hopewell Township, where Cope’s father lives. And hobbyists have flocked to the area to hunt for meteorite fragments that aren’t star-struck. The meteorite offers a valuable opportunity to explore the frontiers of space, experts said – something so dramatically rarely discovered.

“It’s nice to have a fun, interesting story,” Nathan Magee, head of the physics department at the College of New Jersey, told The Washington Post.

Cobb’s sister, Christine Lloyd, confirmed the family had the meteorite, but said the family did not want to discuss further details.

Researchers determined that the meteorite that crashed through the family’s home was a type LL-6 Chondrite, a rocky meteorite characterized by small mineral spheres within its body. The species is approximately 4.56 billion years old, believed to be the age of the Sun and Earth, and originated from rocks in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, according to a news release from The College of New Jersey.

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The meteorite’s journey hundreds of millions of miles away ended up in the drywall of a house in Hopewell, 40 miles from Philadelphia. No one was injured after the rock drilled through the roof on Monday. According to to WPVI. Cobb found a small rock resting on the floor of an upstairs bedroom. The rock seemed to blast straight through the ceiling before exiting the floor and returning to the ceiling, leaving dents all over the room. It was hot to the touch, Cobb told WPVI.

The family reported the incident to police, who contacted researchers at the College of New Jersey. The call reached geophysicist Shannon Graham, who was shocked to learn of such a rare find, a 10-minute drive from the college’s physics department.

“If you ask me, Monday morning, [the] The top 100 reasons why I got a phone call from the police wouldn’t have been on the ‘Meteor’ list,” Graham said with a laugh.

Graham said Cobb and his family were curious about the suspected meteorite and its origins. The family visited the college on Wednesday to observe Graham, Magee and a team of researchers in the lab. Initial findings confirmed its cosmic origin, Magee said. The team measured the meteorite’s density. It weighs two pounds and is much denser than most Earth rocks, he said. The researchers also studied its structure with an electron microscope. Under a powerful lens, the researchers determined the meteorite’s composition and classified it as an LL-6 chondrite.

They gave the meteorite a tentative name — “Titusville, NJ,” after a community in Hopewell Township — after a group of meteorologists advised it. Long term practice Naming the geographic area near where the meteorites were recovered.

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The findings from the College of New Jersey confirmed just how rare and accidental the discovery of the file was. According to the college’s news release, only about 1,100 LL chondrites have been found so far, and only 100 of them have been observed collapsing. Although the meteor was not detected by satellite sensors in real time, Cobb’s report allowed NASA to review the meteor’s final moments through airport weather radar data. declared.

Titusville, NJ is especially valuable because of the wealth of data surrounding its landings, Magee said. Further study of the meteorite’s composition, its flight path and the holes in its roof could provide an exceptionally clear picture of its path through the solar system — and help identify the asteroid that formed it, he said.

Magee gleaned one more detail from his analysis: the cracked edges of the meteorite revealed its gray interior, which had separated from a larger meteorite after entering the atmosphere.

Officials in Hopewell Township have told residents to look for other pieces. On a social media Mail On Tuesday, the township released a message from Mike Hankey, operations manager for the American Meteor Society, encouraging residents to check their doorbell cameras and watch for other meteors scattered around the region. There is much at stake, the announcement added: even the ground or building materials damaged by a meteor strike are valuable to collectors.

A city spokeswoman said no other meteorite finds had been reported as of Thursday morning. Hankey, along with a dozen meteorite hunters, searched the area but found nothing, he told The Post.

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“It’s still early days,” Hankey said. “I don’t want to discourage anyone from watching more.”

Cobb’s family has been inundated with calls from collectors to buy the rock, but they have no plans to sell it, Magee and Graham said. Maggie hopes to do more research on the meteorite with the family’s cooperation.

“They’re generous,” Magee said. “We will politely ask for more time.”

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