A piece of a comet, thought to be between 3 and 3.5 million-years-old, has been found inside a meteorite and it could potentially contain the building blocks of life, according to a new study.
The meteorite was found in the LaPaz icefield in Antarctica, the researchers noted, adding they were surprised to see that the tiny sample of the comet was intact.
"Because this sample of cometary building-block material was swallowed by an asteroid and preserved inside this meteorite, it was protected from the ravages of entering Earth’s atmosphere," Carnegie Institution for Science's Larry Nittler said in a statement.
"It gave us a peek at material that would not have survived to reach our planet’s surface on its own, helping us to understand the early solar system's chemistry."
"The existence of this cometary microxenolith [interloping minerals] supports the idea of a radially inward transport of materials from the outer protoplanetary disk into the CR chondrite reservoir during the formation of planetesimals," the study's abstract reads.
"Moreover, the H-isotopic composition of the clast is suggestive of a temporal evolution of organic isotopic compositions in the comet-forming region of the disk."