The discovery of a natural quasicrystal, icosahedrite (Al 63 Cu 24 Fe 13), accompanied by khatyrkite (CuAl 2) and cupalite (CuAl) in the CV3 carbonaceous chondrite Khatyrka has posed a mystery as to what extraterrestrial processes led to the formation and preservation of these metal alloys. Here we present a range of evidence, including the discovery of high-pressure phases never observed before in a CV3 chondrite, indicating that an impact shock generated a heterogeneous distribution of pressures and temperatures in which some portions reached at least GPa and 1,200 C. The conditions were sufficient to melt Al-Cu-bearing minerals, which then rapidly solidified into icosahedrite and other Al-Cu metal phases. The meteorite also contains heretofore unobserved phases of iron-nickel and iron sulphide with substantial amounts of Al and Cu. The presence of these phases in Khatyrka provides further proof that the Al-Cu alloys are natural products of unusual processes that occurred in the early solar system.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Physics and Astronomy(all)