A strange crystal-like mineral was recently found inside of a meteorite that crashed into the Earth nearly 15,000 years ago. The reason it’s strange is how the fragile structure managed to survive both the impact and 15,000 more years on the Earth. Equally mysterious is how a crystal would have formed in space to begin with.
The mineral is being called a quasicrystal because it resembles a crystal but its atoms aren’t arranged as regularly as they are in crystals that form naturally on the Earth. This quasicrystal hitched a ride inside of a meteorite which survived untold eons in space and then an impact on the Earth, making its survival a surprise.
“The difference between crystals and quasicrystals can be visualized by imagining a tiled floor,” a statement by Princeton University in a press release said. “Tiles that are six-sided hexagons can fit neatly against each other to cover the entire floor. But five-sided pentagons or 10-sided decagons laid next to each will result in gaps between tiles.”
This quasicrystal has yet to be formally named and it’s only the second one ever discovered and the first natural decagonal crystal ever found.