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Chunk of Metal That Fell in New Jersey Thought to be From Asteroid

What Landed in New Jersey? It Came From Outer Space

From New York Times:

Published: January 6, 2007

It was not from the neighborhood.

Photo of Chunck of Metal
Photo of Metallic "Chunk"

The object that tore through the roof of a house in the New Jersey suburbs this week was an iron meteorite, perhaps billions of years old and maybe ripped from the belly of an asteroid, experts who examined it said yesterday.

Tentatively named “Freehold Township” for the place where it landed — and ruined a second-floor bathroom — the meteorite is only the second found in New Jersey, said Jeremy S. Delaney, a Rutgers University expert who examined it.

“It’s a pretty exciting find,” said Dr. Delaney, who has examined thousands of meteorites. He said that the first New Jersey meteorite was found in 1829, in the seaside town of Deal.

The meteorite now belongs to the family whose house it ended up in, said Lt. Robert Brightman of the Freehold Township Police Department, adding that they had asked not to be identified.

The family has not yet given permission for physical testing of the meteorite, but from looking at it, Dr. Delaney and other experts were able to tell that the object it had been part of — perhaps an asteroid — cooled relatively fast.

It is magnetic, and reasonably dense, they determined. The leading edge — the one that faced forward as it traveled through the earth’s atmosphere — was much smoother, while the so-called trailing edge seemed to have caught pieces of molten metal.

In fact, Mr. Delaney said, it seemed very similar to another meteorite fragment, the Ahnighito, now on display at the American Museum of Natural History.

“This little guy is a lot like it,” he said. “It’s a good candidate for the core of an asteroid.”

And the scientists are hoping that the owners of the “Freehold Township” will make it available for testing and public viewing, like the Ahnighito, a 34-ton chunk of the Cape York meteorite found in Greenland.

Or, they could sell it.

“The worth of a meteorite like this is almost completely determined by where it fell,” said Eric Twelker, a geologist and a dealer in meteorites, who buys and sells perhaps a hundred of them a month on meteoritemarket.com, his Web site. He was speaking of the premium placed on meteorites with a compelling back story, like the football-size rock that crashed into a parked Chevrolet in Peekskill, N.Y., in 1992.

 

 

 

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