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Find a Meteorite: Explore Meteorites - Chondrites

Chondrites: Meteorites from asteroids that did not completely melt

A chondrule, a crystallized sphere of rocky material found in chondrites, essentially a tiny igneous rock.
A chondrule, a crystallized sphere of rocky material found in chondrites, essentially a tiny igneous rock.

Asteroids that did not completely melt are thought to consist of material that formed in the cloud of dust and gas from which the solar system formed called the solar nebula. The stony meteorites from these bodies are called chondrites, pronounced "kondrites." Most chondrites contain chondrules, which are small, spherical silicate objects on the order of a millimeter or less in size. The chondrules themselves were formed in the nebula before incorporation into the asteroid by a rapid heating process, possibly lightning, or other processes. These meteorites also contain small amounts of fine-grained iron-nickel metal. Scientists are interested in chondrites because their chemical composition reflects that of the solar nebula. The solar nebula is the cloud of gas and dust that condensed and accumulated to form the sun and the planets. We do not know if any of the chondrite meteorites in our collections actually come from Ceres, although the spectra of Ceres is somewhat like carbonaceous chondrites, which are composed of carbon.

The chondrites do not all represent pristine samples from their formation in the solar nebula. Some chondrites have been affected by heat, producing metamorphism, and the presence of liquid water resulting in alteration to form clays and other minerals.

The asteroid Ceres may contain unmelted chondritic material near the surface and provide clues to the origin of the solar system. We do not know if any of the chondrite meteorites in our collections actually come from Ceres, although the spectra of Ceres is somewhat like carbonaceous chondrites. Although the surface of Ceres appears to be chondritic, there is evidence that the chondritic material in the upper crust of Ceres may have been altered by water.

The Kendleton L4 ordinary chondrite.
The Kendleton L4 ordinary chondrite.

The Leoville carbonaceous chondrite
The Leoville carbonaceous chondrite

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