Picture: University of Johannesburg

Johannesburg - A small pebble found in south-west Egypt in 1996 contains exotic micro-mineral compounds that are not known to occur on Earth, elsewhere in the solar system, or in known meteorites or comets, researchers from the University of Johannesburg said this week.

Professor Jan Kramers and Dr Georgy Belyanin from the university's PPM Research Centre at the Department of Geology said in a statement on Thursday that analysis on the Hypatia stone cast significant questions on a widely-held view about the primitive pre-solar dust cloud which the sun, earth and other planets were formed from.

"What we do know is that Hypatia was formed in a cold environment, probably at temperatures below that of liquid nitrogen on Earth," Kramers said.

"In our solar system it would have been way further out than the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, where most meteorites come from."

In 2013, Kramers and his colleagues said the Hypatia pebble was definitely not from Earth and by 2015, other research teams said it was not part of any known types of meteorite or comet, based on noble gas and nuclear probe analyses.

"Micro-mineral analyses of the pebble by Prof Kramers and Dr Belyanin have now provided unsettling answers that spiral away from conventional views of the material our solar system was formed from," UJ said.

African News Agency/ANA