Why the strange mixture? main content.

Why the strange mixture?

Part of Hall of Meteorites.

C.3.1. Why the strange mixture? hero.jpg

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When newly formed planetary bodies heat and melt, iron and rock-forming minerals separate into a core and mantle. These materials separate like oil and water. So why is iron mixed with the silicate mineral olivine in these stony-iron meteorites?

Perhaps chunks of an olivine mantle fell into an outer core, where churning molten metal tore them apart. Or perhaps the iron and olivine never completely separated. No one really knows. But whatever caused the mixing, the stony-iron meteorites known as pallasites provide a snapshot of this dynamic process at the moment when the mixture solidified.

For Educators

Topic: Astronomy

Subtopic: Planets

Keywords: Astrophysics, Olivine, Iron alloys, Planets--Origin, Astrogeology, Asteroids, Meteorites, Iron

Audience: General