20th Annual Smithsonian Magazine Photo Contest Natural World
Comet in a Meteorite

This isn’t a terrestrial rock, but a meteorite, kindly provided by the Museo di Scienze Planetarie della Provincia di Prato – Parsec, Italy, for a photomicrographic reportage. Meteorites are fundamental for understanding the origin of our planet. In particular chondritic meteorites (chondrites) are the most common type that falls to Earth, and are also among the oldest known material in the solar system, dated at 4,56 billion years ago. Chondrites take their name by the abundance of spherical particles, the chondrules, which were small bubbles of molten rock. These bubbles solidified crystallizing in various ways, giving rise to the different textures that can be observed in chondrules. In addition, meteorites underwent a long and complex history, often characterized by impacts at extreme velocities. Here we cleary see the effects of such an impact, that fragmented a chondrule – partly preserved on the right-hand side – in a myriad of crystals that resemble the tail of a microscopic comet. Polarized light photomicrograph. Width of view: 5,3 mm.

Photo Detail
Date Taken: 12.2019
Date Uploaded: 11.2022
Photo Location: Microscope Laboratory, Padua, Italy (meteorite comes from the outer space), Italy
Camera: NIKON D5500
Copyright: © Bernardo Cesare