Scientists already know that space is extremely vast–so big, in fact, that a collision that occurred 466 million years ago somewhere in the universe is still sending meteorites down to Earth.
According to researchers, two or more celestial bodies collided with one another deep in space, which forced one of the objects to fall to pieces.
The objects could be anything from fragments of planets, to stars, to floating space debris.
Scientists have concluded that meteorites that were rare before the collision are much more common today and vice versa.
These more rare meteorites that were more prevalent before the collision are known as achondrites.
The collision, which occurred 466 or 467 million years ago, indicates what scientists are calling a “meteorite flux.”
“We knew almost nothing about the meteorite flux to Earth in geological deep time before this study. The conventional view is that the solar system has been very stable over the past 500 million years. So it is quite surprising that the meteorite flux at 467 million years ago was so different from the present.”
In order to study how the meteorites that fell before the collision differed to the ones that are more common today, scientists were tasked with finding them.
Because of their rarity, it was very difficult to do so, however they were able to use meteorites from an ancient Russian sea floor in which the former meteorites have dissolved into rock.
Although these rocks look like ordinary ones found on Earth, scientists say they contain chrome-spinels, crystals that contain the mineral chromite.
These crystals remain unchanged by time, allowing the scientists to get a clearer picture.
Even thought the crystals are the size of a human hair, they can still study them effectively.
At present, only 0.45% of meteorites that land on the Earth are from the pre-collision era.
Scientists say that they are now essentially able to explore the far reaches of outer space simply be studying meteorites on Earth.
They also state that studying how the solar system and universe changed over time can help scientists fully understand and map out its future.