Shock Resisting Steel in the Debrid Field of the First Recognized Interstellar Meteor

Category Science

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Scientists believe the first recognized interstellar object, IM1, was protected by a thick film of shock-resisting steel when it crossed through interstellar medium. Metal pearls from the meteor have been found, and are being retrieved for analysis. Avi Loeb, director of Harvard University's Black Hole Initiative, is the author of two books related to extraterrestrial life and interstellar.

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They believe have recovered pieces of that meteor and begun analyzing parts. They believe it is interstellar and has technological elements. They have found spherules. The fundamental question is obvious: was this first recognized interstellar object from 2014 manufactured by a technological civilization? Upon their return, they could produce an alloy in the laboratory that has the same composition as they infer for the spherules and analyze the resulting material properties .

Material strength of IM1 was tougher than all other 272 meteors in CNEOS catalog of NASA

Finding more spherules will allow us to pinpoint the meteor path and potentially seek a large object that may represent its core at the end of the path. If such an object is retrieved, its structure could inform us of its technological purpose and design. The metallic pearl-looking spherules are embedded in the volcanic ash and so our goal from now on is to retrieve all the magnetic material available on the sled magnets in the form of black powder and then identify the metallic pearls and separate them with tweezers .

Gamma-ray spectrum can be used to characterize radioactive elements and the meteor's travel time

Ryan Weed, Jeff Wynn, Charles Hoskinson, J.J. Siler and Amir Siraj are all engaged in this effort. Proving that they can get the magnetic sled on the ocean floor allowed us to do it again and again and find materials from IM1’s fireball site. Proving that they can retrieve the first spherule from that material allows us now to do it again and again and find a large number of spherules from IM1 in a consistent and systematic fashion .

Spherules from the meteor are embedded in volcanic ash

They are now on their way back to IM1’s crash site in an attempt to retrieve as many spherules as possible. With a large enough sample, we can obtain a gamma-ray spectrum that will characterize its radioactive elements and potentially date the sample. Constraining the travel time might allow us to identify the distance and direction of its source star given its known velocity. Our preliminary analysis implies that the composition of mostly iron with a tenth of that in magnesium and some titanium does not resemble known human-made alloys or familiar asteroids .

The metallic pearl-looking spherules are composed of iron, magnesium and titanium

Avi Loeb is the head of the Galileo Project, founding director of Harvard University’s — Black Hole Initiative, director of the Institute for Theory and Computation at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, and the former chair of the astronomy department at Harvard University (2011–2020). He chairs the advisory board for the Breakthrough Starshot project, and is a former member of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology and a former chair of the Board on Physics and Astronomy of the National Academies .

Ryan Weed, Jeff Wynn, Charles Hoskinson, J.J. Siler and Amir Siraj are all engaged in retrieving the interstellar spherules

He is the bestselling author of "Extraterrestrial: The First Sign of Intelligent Life Beyond Earth" and a co-author of the textbook "Life in the Cosmos", both published in 2021. His new book, titled "Interstellar", is scheduled for publication in August 2023. Shock Resisting Steel in the Debrid Field of the First Recognized Interstellar Meteor The yield strength of S5 steel, 1.7 GPa, is well above that of iron meteorites .

Avi Loeb is the author of two books on extraterrestrial life and another on interstellar scheduled for publication in 2023

This is consistent with the fact that IM1 was tougher in material strength than all other 272 meteors in the CNEOS catalog of NASA. Most importantly, the shape of the recovered shards is consistent with that expected from a debrid object, falling into a flat surface and thus suggesting that the meteor was protected by a reasonably thick film of resistive material like shock-resisting steel. This debrid suggests that IM1 was protected by a thick film of steel resistant to shock and to thermal stresses suffered while crossing the interstellar medium .

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