Scientists first discovered meteorites, partially consisting of superconducting materials. This is stated in the scientific journal PNAS.
Superconductivity is a set of physical properties that provide ideal electrical conductivity in the material, as well as completely remove electrical resistance. Superconductivity is quite rare in natural materials, most often scientists have to recreate this property artificially.
At the same time, researchers believe that many types of materials with superconductivity can exist in space, because extreme conditions – low temperatures and high pressure – create material structures that are quite exotic for the Earth. Despite this, in recent decades, scientists have never been able to detect meteorites falling on Earth, which would consist of superconducting material.
In a new study, astrophysicists from the University of California at San Diego examined fragments from 15 different meteorites that fell to Earth at different times. In the experiment, they applied the technology of microwave spectroscopy with modulation of the magnetic field, which would allow to detect traces of superconductivity inside these samples.
As a result of the study, scientists were able to detect two meteorites with particles of superconducting matter. One of them was one of the largest meteorites on Earth – the iron Mundrabill, which fell into Australia in 1911. The second is a rare meteorite such as the ureilites GRA 95205, which fell on Antarctica 25 years ago.
An extraterrestrial combination of an alloy of lead, indium and tin was found in these meteorites. Scientists note that the simplest superconducting mineral lead is rarely found without impurities on Earth, so they did not expect to find it in meteorite samples. In the future, astrophysicists will continue to study samples of various meteorites that have appeared on Earth at different times.