Researchers at UC San Diego and the Brookhaven Laboratory in New York have discovered superconductivity in meteorites.
After analyzing 15 comets and asteroids, scientists have found two meteorites with superconducting grains, called “Mundrabilla” and “GRA 95205.” This is the first time extraterrestrial grains have been identified.
A document about the research is published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Meteorites have a wide range of “material phases” from the oldest states in the solar system, researchers say. In one statement, naturally occurring superconducting materials are described by UC San Diego scientist James Wampler as unusual, but significant because they can be superconducting in extraterrestrial environments.
In the paper, researchers characterize the material phases of the meteorites as alloys of lead, tin and indium, which is the softest non-alkali metal. The research was conducted by UC San Diego researchers Mark Thiemens, Ivan Schuller and the magazine’s first author Wampler, along with Brookhaven Labs Shaobo Cheng and Yimei Zhu
The results, according to the researchers, can increase our knowledge of a number of astronomical environments. Superconducting particles in cold environments can affect planetary formation, shape and origin of magnetic fields, dynamo effects, movement of charged particles, they say.
A small piece of an asteroid or comet is also known as a meteoroid. When it enters the earth’s atmosphere, it becomes a meteor or fireball or shooting. The rock pieces that hit the ground, valuable to collectors, are meteorites.