Microscopic Images of a Chondrules in Chondrite Meteorite

Chondrites are stony meteorites that have not been modified due to melting or differentiation of the parent body. They formed when various types of dust and small grains that were present in the early solar system accreted to form primitive asteroids..

Mila Zinkova

Chondrites and Chondrules

Chondrites are stony meteorites. They’re the most common and probably the most fascinating type of meteorite. The meteor/meteorite that broke windows in the Russian city of Chelyabinsk this past February was a stony chondrite.

The composition of chondrites is very similar to the composition of the Sun, except that they’re lacking hydrogen and helium. So, if you’d like to hold a piece of the Sun in your palm, chondrites are about as close as you can get. Their name is derived from the chondrules (spherical inclusions) observed in most of them. Chondrules are only found in meteorites.

They’re over 4 billion years old — older than the Earth and other planets. Scientists previously identified meteorites by the crystals found within chondrules, but later they realized that chondrules may recrystallize during weathering processes once they reach the Earth’s surface. Sometimes a broken face of a meteorite is weathered in such a way that 3-D chondrules are seen (above at upper right corner). However, chrondules can be more easily studied by cutting the parent chrondite into slices. Shown at center is a a microscopic image of a 3 cm slice of a chondrite that was found in northwest Africa. — Mila Zinkova