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Scientists have found a natural superconductive materials in extraterrestrial objects, finding the superconducting grains, in two different meteorites that fell to Earth.
The discovery shows that the meteorite is much more than space debris falling from the sky. Recent studies led to the discovery of the delivery of meteorites possible extraterrestrial proteins, minerals, which we never faced, and materials that are older than the Solar system itself. But we’ve never seen anything like this before.
Superconductivity is a set of physical properties that provide ideal conductivity of the material, which means that all the electric resistance inside the material to disappear, in addition to other effects. This valuable phenomenon is extremely rare in natural materials that have not been specially treated and at least it’s rare on Earth.
The researchers say that the extreme conditions in space create an exotic material phase, unprecedented on Earth, the result of astronomical events that can cause extremely high temperature and extremely high pressure.
Because of this, meteorites may be good candidates to search for naturally formed superconducting materials, forged in deep space. The only problem is that previous searches never identified such superconducting compound. At least so far.
In a new study conducted by researchers from the University of California at San Diego, scientists examined fragments of 15 different meteorites, using a technique called microwave spectroscopy with magnetic field modulation, for the detection of traces of superconductivity inside the samples.
They got two of the superconductor: one in the iron meteorite called Mundrabilla, one of the largest ever found meteorite, discovered in Australia in 1911; the other, orality rare meteorite called GRA 95205, discovered in the Antarctic a quarter century ago.
According to the measurement team, which was also based on the methods of magnetometry with a vibrating sample (VSM) and methods energy dispersive x-ray spectroscopy (EDX), both of these space rocks contain a minor amount of extraterrestrial superconducting grains.
“Nature of superconducting materials is unusual, but they are especially important because these materials can be superconducting in extraterrestrial environments,” says physicist James Wampler.
“These measurement and analysis identified the likely phases as alloys of lead, indium and tin”.
The fact that superconducting grains were discovered in two separate meteorites, and from such a small sample space of rocks means that a larger number of these superconducting materials likely to exist in astronomical environments, and their superconducting properties can, in turn, have all kinds of effects on their extraterrestrial environment.
“The superconducting particles in the cold regions of space can affect the structure of stellar objects,” the scientists write.
The results are presented in PNAS.
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