Victoria Hamilton of the Southwest Research Institute (USA) and her colleagues found that there is at least one more large asteroid inside the solar system: its fragment was found in a meteorite that fell in Sudan.
Between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter is the so-called main asteroid belt – a cluster of celestial bodies with a size of 1 km. In total, according to various estimates, these objects are from 1.1 to 1.9 million, there may be several million more smaller bodies. The largest of them is the small planet Zerra, its diameter is approximately 950 km.
Smaller objects revolve around the asteroids from the main belt, which hardly differ in their composition and properties: it is believed that they are formed after collisions by large asteroids. As a result, some debris of these bodies falls to the Earth.
While studying fragments of the 2008 TC3 meteorite, which fell into Sudan in October 2008, the researchers found that there is at least one more large asteroid inside the solar system. During the analysis of the fallen meteorite, it turned out that it contains magnetite and some other minerals, the analogs of which have not been encountered in such meteorites before.
While analyzing the fallen body with an infrared spectrometer, the researchers discovered many sedimentary rocks, such as phyllosilicates and amphiboles, which appear at relatively high temperatures only with water. However, amphiboles have never been found inside meteorites before, except for the Allende meteorite-chondrite, which fell into Mexico in 1969.
Based on the results of their work, scientists have suggested that this unusual structure of a fallen meteorite could appear there if 2008 TC3 was part of a much larger asteroid, which is comparable in size to Ceres.
Researchers plan to continue studying the history of the formation of the fallen meteorite and the alleged large, in order to find out in which region of the solar system it or its debris may be located.