(NEW YORK) — A New Jersey family made an out-of-this-world discovery this week.
After a mysterious black rock was found in a Trenton-area home that had apparently damaged the ceiling and floor, the homeowner and his children went searching for answers.
Suzy Kop found the metallic rock on Monday in an upstairs bedroom in her father’s home in Hopewell Township.
“It was warm. It definitely was warm,” Kop told Philadelphia ABC station WPVI-TV. “I just thought it was a random rock from outside. Why would it be in a bedroom?”
She also noticed there were two holes in the ceiling — one where the 4-by-6-inch rock entered the home and another after it likely ricocheted across the room before coming to a rest on the floor, which was also slightly damaged.
“I’m looking up on the ceiling and there’s these two holes, and I’m like, what in the world has happened here?” Kop told WPVI.
The family suspected a meteorite might have crash-landed through the roof of the house and into the room. They reached out to police to help them figure out the origins of the rock and if it was safe. The Hopewell Township Police Department in turn reached out to several entities, including The College of New Jersey, about the object, in “positively identifying the object and safeguarding the residents and the object,” the department said.
“I got a message from a colleague saying the Hopewell PD was going to call me. And I was like, ‘Why?'” Shannon Graham, a geophysicist at The College of New Jersey in nearby Ewing Township, told WPVI with a laugh.
Based on the photos and description, Graham also suspected the object was a meteorite — remnants of meteoroids that make it through the atmosphere and hit the ground — but told WPVI that the college’s scanning electron microscope would be able to tell if this was metal from space or Earth.
On Thursday, The College of New Jersey physics professor Nate Magee confirmed the object was indeed from outer space.
In addition to images from the scanning electron microscope, scientists relied on density measurements, visual examination and input from retired meteorite expert Jerry Delaney to confirm this to be a rare finding of a stony chondrite meteorite, the college said.
“Getting the chance to examine the meteorite yesterday was a rare and thrilling opportunity for me, as well as for a group of physics students and professors at TCNJ,” Magee said in a statement Thursday. “We are excited to be able to confirm that the object is a true chondrite meteorite, in excellent condition, and one of a very small number of similar witnessed chondrite falls known to science.”
The 2.2-pound meteorite is estimated to be approximately 4.56 billion years old — a little older than the Earth. It is likely to be named based on the nearest postal address — which would make it the Titusville, NJ meteorite, the college said.
The family told WPVI they plan to keep the rare space rock in a safe and undisclosed location.
Police had noted the incident could possibly be related to a weeks-long meteor shower called Eta Aquarids that is active right now.
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