Extraterrestrial Stone May Be First Proof on Earth of Supernova Ia Explosion

Sample of Hypatia Stone From Outside Solar System

A 3-gram (0.1 ounce) pattern of the Hypatia stone. Researchers discovered a constant sample of 15 parts within the Hypatia stone. The sample is totally in contrast to something in our photo voltaic system or our photo voltaic neighborhood, within the Milky Approach. Credit score: Romano Serra

New chemistry ‘forensics’ signifies that the stone named Hypatia from the Egyptian desert might be the primary bodily proof discovered on Earth of a supernova kind Ia explosion. These uncommon supernovas are a few of the most energetic occasions within the universe.

That is the conclusion of a brand new analysis examine by Jan Kramers, Georgy Belyanin, and Hartmut Winkler of the[{” attribute=””>University of Johannesburg, and others that has been published in the journal Icarus.

Since 2013, Belyanin and Kramers have discovered a series of highly unusual chemistry clues in a small fragment of the Hypatia Stone.

In the new research, they meticulously eliminate ‘cosmic suspects’ for the origin of the stone in a painstaking process. They have pieced together a timeline stretching back to the early stages of the formation of Earth, our Sun, and the other planets in our solar system.

A cosmic timeline

Their hypothesis about Hypatia’s origin starts with a star: A red giant star collapsed into a

That white dwarf found itself in a binary system with a second star. The white dwarf star eventually ‘ate’ the other star. At some point, the ‘hungry’ white dwarf exploded as a supernova type Ia inside the dust cloud.

After cooling, the gas atoms which remained of the supernova Ia started sticking to the particles of the dust cloud.

Extraterrestrial Hypatia Stone May Be First Tangible Evidence of a Supernova Explosion

The tiny samples of the extraterrestrial Hypatia stone next to a small coin. Rare type Ia supernovas are some of the most energetic events in the universe. Researchers found a consistent pattern of 15 elements in the Hypatia stone. The pattern is completely unlike anything in our solar system or our solar neighborhood, the Milky Way. Prof Jan Kramers (University of Johannesburg) is the lead author. Credit: Jan Kramers

“In a sense we could say, we have ‘caught’ a supernova Ia explosion ‘in the act’, because the gas atoms from the explosion were caught in the surrounding dust cloud, which eventually formed Hypatia’s parent body,” says Kramers.

A huge ‘bubble’ of this supernova dust-and-gas-atoms mix never interacted with other dust clouds.

Millions of years would pass, and eventually the ‘bubble’ would slowly become solid, in a ‘cosmic dust bunny’ kind of way. Hypatia’s ‘parent body’ would become a solid rock sometime in the early stages of formation of our solar system.

This process probably happened in a cold, uneventful outer part of our solar system – in the Oort cloud or in the Kuiper belt.

At some point, Hypatia’s parent rock started hurtling towards Earth. The heat of entry into the earth’s atmosphere, combined with the pressure of impact in the Great Sand Sea in southwestern Egypt, created micro-diamonds and shattered the parent rock.

The Hypatia stone picked up in the desert must be one of many fragments of the original impactor.


The Hypatia stone might be the primary tangible proof on Earth of a supernova Sort Ia explosion. Supernovas of the sort Ia are uncommon — and a few of the most energetic occasions within the universe. UJ researchers discovered a constant sample of 15 parts within the Hypatia stone found in Egypt. The sample is totally in contrast to something in our photo voltaic system or our photo voltaic neighborhood within the[{” attribute=””>Milky Way. But most of the elements match the pattern of supernova type Ia models. Prof Jan Kramers (University of Johannesburg) is the lead author. Credit: Therese van Wyk

“If this hypothesis is correct, the Hypatia stone would be the first tangible evidence on Earth of a supernova type Ia explosion. Perhaps equally important, it shows that an individual anomalous ‘parcel’ of dust from outer space could actually be incorporated in the solar nebula that our solar system was formed from, without being fully mixed in,” says Kramers.

“This goes against the conventional view that dust which our solar system was formed from, was thoroughly mixed.”

Three million volts for a tiny sample

To piece together the timeline of how Hypatia may have formed, the researchers used several techniques to analyze the strange stone.

In 2013, a study of the argon isotopes showed the rock was not formed on earth. It had to be extraterrestrial. A 2015 study of noble gases in the fragment indicated that it may not be from any known type of meteorite or comet.

High-Voltage Proton Beam Data for Stone Formed Outside Solar System

A high-voltage proton beam shows three trace elements in the extraterrestrial Hypatia stone, and their concentrations. Here, we see sulphur, iron and nickel for targets 1 and 2 within region 14 on the sample. Dr Georgy Belyanin (University of Johannesburg) used a 3-million Volt proton beam to analyse the tiny fragment of the stone. Credit: Georgy Belyanin

In 2018 the UJ team published various analyses, which included the discovery of a mineral, nickel phosphide, not previously found in any object in our solar system.

At that stage Hypatia was proving difficult to analyze further. The trace metals Kramers and Belyanin were looking for, couldn’t really be ‘seen in detail’ with the equipment they had. They needed a more powerful instrument that would not destroy the tiny sample.

Kramers started analyzing a dataset that Belyanin had created a few years before.

In 2015, Belyanin had done a series of analyses on a proton beam at the iThemba Labs in Somerset West. At the time, Dr. Wojciech Przybylowicz kept the three-million Volt machine humming along.

In search of a pattern

“Rather than exploring all the incredible anomalies Hypatia presents, we wanted to explore if there is an underlying unity. We wanted to see if there is some kind of consistent chemical pattern in the stone,” says Kramers.

Belyanin carefully selected 17 targets on the tiny sample for analysis. All were chosen to be well away from the earthly minerals that had formed in the cracks of the original rock after its impact in the desert.

“We identified 15 different elements in Hypatia with much greater precision and Distinctive Pattern Matching Elements in Supernova Ia Model

UJ researchers find that most of the elements they analysed in the extraterrestrial Hypatia stone fit the predictions from supernova Ia models well. The high-voltage proton beam data shows that for 9 of the 15 elements, concentrations are close to the predicted values. Prof Jan Kramers (University of Johannesburg) is the lead author. Credit: Jan Kramers

Proton beam also rules out solar system

The first big new clue from the proton beam analyses was the surprisingly low level of silicon in the Hypatia stone targets. The silicon, along with chromium and manganese, were less than 1% to be expected for something formed within our inner solar system.

Further, high iron, high sulfur, high phosphorus, high copper, and high vanadium were conspicuous and anomalous, adds Kramers.

“We found a consistent pattern of trace element abundances that is completely different from anything in the solar system, primitive or evolved. Objects in the asteroid belt and meteors don’t match this either. So next we looked outside the solar system,” says Kramers.


Numerous analyzes of the Hypatia stone in Egypt point out that it was not shaped on Earth or inside our photo voltaic system. A brand new examine reveals it might have preserved an uncommon chemical sample just like that from a supernova Ia explosion. dr Georgy Belyanin (College of Johannesburg) used a 3-million volt proton beam to investigate a tiny fragment of the stone. Credit score: Therese van Wyk

Not from our neighborhood

Then Kramers in contrast the Hypatia factor focus sample with what one would anticipate to see within the mud between stars in our photo voltaic arm of the Milky Approach galaxy.

“We seemed to see if the sample we get from common interstellar mud in our arm of the Milky Approach galaxy suits what we see in Hypatia. Once more, there was no similarity in any respect,” provides Kramers.

At this level, the proton beam information had additionally dominated out 4 ‘suspects’ of the place Hypatia may have shaped.

Hypatia didn’t kind on earth, was not a part of any identified kind of comet or meteorite, didn’t kind from common internal photo voltaic system mud, and never from common interstellar mud both.

Not a crimson large

The following easiest attainable rationalization for the factor focus sample in Hypatia can be a crimson large star. Purple large stars are frequent within the universe.

However the proton beam information dominated out mass outflow from a crimson large star too: Hypatia had an excessive amount of iron, too little silicon, and too low concentrations of heavy parts heavier than iron.

Nor a supernova Sort II

The following ‘suspect’ to contemplate was a supernova kind II. Supernovas of kind II prepare dinner up a number of iron. They’re additionally a comparatively frequent kind of supernova.

Once more, the proton beam information for Hypatia dominated out a promising suspect with ‘chemistry forensics’. A supernova kind II was extremely unlikely because the supply of unusual minerals like nickel phosphide within the pebble. There was additionally an excessive amount of iron in Hypatia in comparison with silicon and calcium.

It was time to intently look at the anticipated chemistry of one of the crucial dramatic explosions within the universe.

Heavy metallic manufacturing facility

A uncommon form of supernova additionally makes a number of iron. Supernovas of the sort Ia solely occur a couple of times per galaxy per century. However they manufacture a lot of the iron (Fe) within the universe. A lot of the metal on earth was as soon as the factor iron created by Ia supernovas.

Additionally, established science says that some Ia supernovas depart very distinctive ‘forensic chemistry’ clues behind. That is due to the best way some Ia supernovas are arrange.

First, a crimson large star on the finish of its life collapses into a really dense white dwarf star. White dwarf stars are normally extremely secure for very lengthy intervals and impossible to blow up. Nevertheless, there are exceptions to this.

A white dwarf star may begin ‘pulling’ matter off one other star in a binary system. One can say the white dwarf star ‘eats up’ its companion star. Finally, the white dwarf will get so heavy, sizzling, and unstable, that it explodes in a supernova Ia.

The nuclear fusion through the supernova Ia explosion ought to create extremely uncommon factor focus patterns, as accepted scientific theoretical fashions predict.

Additionally, the white dwarf star that explodes in a supernova Ia is not only blown to bits, however actually blown to atoms. The supernova Ia matter is delivered into area as fuel atoms.

In an intensive literature search of star information and mannequin outcomes, the staff couldn’t establish any related or higher chemical match for the Hypatia stone than a selected set of supernova Ia fashions.

Forensic factor proof

“All supernova Ia information and theoretical fashions present a lot larger proportions of iron in comparison with silicon and calcium than supernova II fashions,” says Kramers.

“On this respect, the proton beam laboratory information on Hypatia match to supernova Ia information and fashions.”

Altogether, eight of the 15 parts analyzed conform to the anticipated ranges of proportions relative to iron. These are the weather silicon, sulfur, calcium, titanium, vanadium, chromium, manganese, iron, and nickel.

Not all 15 of the analyzed parts in Hypatia match the predictions although. In six of the 15 parts, proportions had been between 10 and 100 instances larger than the ranges predicted by theoretical fashions for supernovas of kind 1A. These are the weather aluminum, phosphorus, chlorine, potassium, copper, and zinc.

“Since a white dwarf star is shaped from a dying crimson large, Hypatia may have inherited these factor proportions for the six parts from a crimson large star. This phenomenon has been noticed in white dwarf stars in different analysis,” provides Kramers.

If this speculation is right, the Hypatia stone can be the primary tangible proof on Earth of a supernova kind Ia explosion, one of the crucial energetic occasions within the universe.

The Hypatia stone can be a clue of a cosmic story began through the early formation of our photo voltaic system, and be discovered a few years later in a distant desert strewn with different pebbles.

Reference: “The chemistry of the extraterrestrial carbonaceous stone “Hypatia”: A perspective on mud heterogeneity in interstellar area” by Jan D. Kramers, Georgy A. Belyanin, Wojciech J. Przybylowicz, Hartmut Winkler and Marco AG Andreoli, 22 April 2022, Icarus.
DOI: 10.1016/j.icarus.2022.115043

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