Experts confirm meteorite find in Elmshorn

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Members of the Arbeitskreis Meteore (AKM) commissioned by the German Aerospace C
Members of the Arbeitskreis Meteore (AKM) commissioned by the German Aerospace Center (DLR) documented a 233.4 gram stone meteorite find and the damaged roof tiles shortly after the meteorite fall. © Carsten Jonas, AKM

Sky rock testifies to intense collisions in early solar system

A suspected meteorite find at the end of April in Elmshorn in Schleswig-Holstein has now been confirmed: Scientists from Münster and Dresden have analyzed the find and determined that the rock is a so-called common type H chondrite. This is a group of meteorites that have a particularly high proportion of metal. The sky rock originates from the primeval time of the solar system before 4.5 billion years and shows an intensive Brekziierung. This means that the rock consists of various components such as very pristine and unaltered as well as strongly heated material. "The meteorite’s brecciation was formed by previous collisions in the early solar system and in the asteroid belt, a region with a particularly high collection of asteroids that lies between Mars and Jupiter. In other words, the parent body of the Elmshorn meteorite collided with other asteroids there, giving us insight into the history of this celestial body," explains Markus Patzek of the Institute of Planetology at the University of Münster.

For their analyses, the scientists in Münster sawed a piece of the meteorite weighing about 40 grams and produced several so-called thin sections. These slices of rock, which are only 30 micrometers thick, allow further investigations of the internal structure using optical and electron microscopy. A portion was processed into a fine powder, which the researchers made available to participating institutes in Europe for further chemical and isotopic investigation. Dr. Detlev Degering of VKTA - Strahlenschutz, Analytik & Entsorgung Rossendorf e.V. (Radiation Protection, Analysis & Waste Disposal Rossendorf) is currently examining another find from the meteorite in the Felsenkeller underground laboratory using highly sensitive gamma spectrometry for primarily short-lived radionuclides. These were produced during its stay in space and confirm, for example, that it is indeed a recent fall. Dieter Heinlein of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) already made sure on the basis of photos that real stony meteorites are present here.


On April 25, at 2:14 p.m., a daylight fireball lit up over Schleswig-Holstein for about four seconds. This bright flare was recorded by two meteor cameras of the "Allsky7 Network" and observed by some eyewitnesses in Germany and the Netherlands. Shortly thereafter, residents of Elmshorn discovered impacts on roofs and in gardens and found meteorites ranging from several hundred grams to several kilograms. Some of the finds they made available to the scientists thankfully for the investigation. After the Flensburg meteorite fall in 2019, this is the next meteorite fall in Germany in which fragments of an alien celestial body that collided with Earth were found.

Under the leadership of the planetologists Dr. Markus Patzek and Addi Bischoff from Münster, further research work on the Elmshorn meteorite will be coordinated in the coming weeks, involving institutes from Germany, France and Switzerland, among others. The scientists want to find out whether the meteorite provides further insights into collision and formation processes in the early solar system.