Confirmed: TCNJ Department Of Physics Says House Struck By Stony Chondrite Meteorite

May 11, 2023

EWING TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)– The College of New Jersey’s Department of Physics is pleased to share the following update:

Based on visual examination, density measurements, scanning electron microscope (SEM) images, and examination and input from retired meteorite expert Jerry Delaney (Rutgers University/The American Museum of Natural History) we are happy to confirm that the object is a stony chondrite meteorite. It is most likely type LL-6, which means that it is lower in iron than most chondrite meteorites, and has been highly metamorphosed by intense heat even before entering the Earth’s atmosphere.

“Getting the chance to examine the meteorite yesterday was a rare and thrilling opportunity for me, as well as for a group of physics students and professors at TCNJ,” said Nathan Magee, chair of TCNJ’s department of physics. “We are excited to be able to confirm that the object is a true chondrite meteorite, in excellent condition, and one of a very small number of similar witnessed chondrite falls known to science.”

Some additional preliminary facts:

·       The meteorite is likely to be named based on the nearest postal address, thus likely to be officially dubbed the “Titusville, NJ” meteorite

·       Best estimate of landing time is approximately 12:14 p.m. EDT on Monday, May 8, 2023. The home owner confirms that it was still warm when she found it at approximately 12:35 p.m. Several reports of flight-streaks and loud noises appear to agree with the timing estimate

·       The total weight is 984 grams (2.2 lbs), volume approximately 317 cubic centimeters, bulk density of approximately 3.2–3.3 g/cc. That density is in the usual range for chondrite meteorites and significantly greater than most crustal rocks on Earth

·       About 1,100 LL chondrites have ever been found and are known to science; of these, around 100 were witnessed falls (~50 in category LL6)

·       The parent-body asteroid origin of LL chondrites is not yet known precisely, but it is understood that these are objects from the main asteroid belt, with an age of approximately 4.56 billion years (fairly close to formation age of the sun and Earth, and older than any dated rock on Earth (4.0 billion years)

·       Additional measurements could establish mineral composition more precisely, and confirm or perhaps change the preliminary LL chondrite classification

·       Advanced isotopic analysis could be done elsewhere to establish more precise ages of the mineral components and perhaps provide more information on the trajectory and timeline of travel from the asteroid belt toward Earth

Nathan Magee, chair of The College of New Jersey’s Physics Department, examines the “Titusville, NJ” meteorite on May 10, 2023 (photo credit: Anthony DePrimo)

The “Titusville, NJ” meteorite undergoes analysis at The College of New Jersey (photo credit: Anthony DePrimo)

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