A comet exploded over modern-day Egypt 28 million years ago, raining down fire and leaving behind a “mysterious” black pebble — the first-ever comet material found on Earth, scientists said Tuesday as they announced the discovery.
“Comets always visit our skies — they’re these dirty snowballs of ice mixed with dust — but never before in history has material from a comet ever been found on Earth,” said professor David Block at South Africa’s University of the Witwatersrand.
Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun had a scarab broach made from yellow silica glass created when the comet’s explosion heated sand to 2,000 degrees Celsius (3,600 degrees Fahrenheit).
But also left behind was the first comet material discovered on Earth — a black pebble embedded in the modern-day Sahara’s sands, the university said in a statement.
The pebble was “the first ever evidence of a comet entering Earth’s atmosphere and exploding, raining down a shock wave of fire which obliterated every life form in its path,” it said.
South African scholars headed a team of geoscientists, physicists and astronomers who tested the pebble, which was found in 1996.
It had “been sitting around for a long time” until it ended up with a team member studying diamonds, according to Johannesburg University professor Jan Kramers. see more