In a preprint study paper, Harvard physicist Avi Loeb and his team analyzed the characteristics of a meteor that fell into the Pacific Ocean in 2014. The researchers discovered roughly 700 tiny metallic spheres during their voyage off the coast of New Guinea, with 57 of those being studied and showing compositions not found anywhere else in our solar system. The planet, like Earth, formed the traits when it veered off its orbit around a dwarf star, sending debris hurtling into space.
Metal spheres were recovered from the ocean floor, and their composition revealed that they were composed of beryllium, lanthanum, and uranium—elements that would be produced in abundance if the crust of a rocky planet melted. Loeb hypothesized that the numerous rare elements may have been used for technological purposes, such as melting lanthanum from semiconductors or using uranium as fuel for a fission reactor, even though the current study suggests a natural origin.
Within the following nine months, Loeb and his team hope to find huge parts of IM1 and learn its true nature. Alloys on Earth, the Moon, Mars, and other natural meteorites in the Solar System seem different even though the elements are all there.
The group determined the velocity at which boulders were hurled from the crust of the Earth-like planet during the tidal disruption. The rocky planet’s frequent near approaches to the dwarf star, which would cause surface melting, explain the fragments’ ‘BeLaU’ composition. Elements with a strong affinity for iron may sink to the planet’s iron core if this melting leads to differentiation.
The new research implies IM1 originated in nature, but Loeb still doesn’t rule out the possibility that aliens built it.
A second mission to the Pacific Ocean is in the works so that he and his crew can search for larger parts of IM1 and determine if it is a rock or something more exotic.