Hypatia (stone)

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Hypatia is a small stone, thought to be the first known specimen of a comet nucleus.[1][2]


Hypatia was discovered in December 1996 by Aly A. Barakat at 25°20′N 25°30′E / 25.333°N 25.500°E / 25.333; 25.500, in the same area where Libyan desert glass is found.[3]


The rock has been named after Hypatia of Alexandria (c. 350–370 AD – 415 AD) – the outstanding philosopher, astronomer, mathematician, and inventor.[4]


Tests done in South Africa[by whom?] show that Hypatia contains microscopic diamonds and that it is of extraterrestrial origin. It is thought to have been part of the body whose impact caused the creation of Libyan desert glass.[3] It probably fell to Earth about 28 million years ago.[4] It has a very unusual chemical composition, parts of it could be older than the solar system.[2]

In 2018 Georgy Belyanin of the university of Johannesburg and colleages have found compounds including polyaromatic hydrocarbons and silicon carbide associated with a nickel phosphide compound not found in the solar system before. Other facts supporting the otherworldly origin of the stone include ratios of silicon to carbon opposite to those of Earth, Mars or Venus, but consistent with interstellar dust.[5]


  1. ^ "Libyan desert glass: Diamond-Bearing Pebble Provides Evidence of Comet Striking Earth". sci-news.com, 8 October 2013.
  2. ^ a b "Extra-terrestrial Hypatia stone rattles solar system status quo". ScienceDaily.com, 9 January 2018.
  3. ^ a b Kramers, Jan D; Andreoli, Marco A.G; Atanasova, Maria; Belyanin, Georgy A; Block, David L; Franklyn, Chris; Harris, Chris; Lekgoathi, Mpho; Montross, Charles S; Ntsoane, Tshepo; Pischedda, Vittoria; Segonyane, Patience; Viljoen, K.S. (Fanus); Westraadt, Johan E (2013). "Unique chemistry of a diamond-bearing pebble from the Libyan Desert Glass strewnfield, SW Egypt: Evidence for a shocked comet fragment". Earth and Planetary Science Letters. 382: 21–31. Bibcode:2013E&PSL.382...21K. doi:10.1016/j.epsl.2013.09.003.
  4. ^ a b Collins, Tim (2018-01-12). "Incredible diamond-studded 'alien' rock has minerals not found anywhere in our star system". NZ Herald. ISSN 1170-0777. Retrieved 2018-01-13.
  5. ^ 2018 Journal Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 223 462. (Quotation from CERN Courier March 2018)