DAVID PARKER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DAVID PARKER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Iron meteorite. Sectioned fragment from an iron meteorite that caused the Odessa crater in Texas, USA, about 50,000 years ago. The Widmanstatten pattern of lines on the newly-cut surface are produced by the edges of crystals in the meteorite. The pattern was formed about 4.5 billion years ago when the iron mass solidified in one of several minor planets between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. These planets have since been disrupted to form the asteroid belt. The fragments resulting from collisions between asteroids are deflected into orbits that cross the path of the Earth. Analysis of meteorites can provide inform- ation on the composition of the early solar system.
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