Rare meteorite sat unnoticed in private Dutch collection for 140 years

LEIDEN, Netherlands, Dec. 13 (UPI) —

A rare meteorite formed soon after the origin of the solar system has sat unnoticed for more than a century in a private Dutch collection, scientists say.

Estimated at 4.6 billion years old, the cosmic fragment was “rediscovered” by a Dutch amateur astronomer when he examined the collection last year.

It was officially handed over to the Naturalis Biodiversity Center in Leiden in the Netherlands this week, NewScientist.com reported Friday.

“It is very unusual for a space rock to remain unnoticed by astronomers and geologists for such a long time,” center geologist Leo Kriegsman said.

On Oct. 27, 1873, the meteorite fell in the village of Diepenveen in the Netherlands, where two witnesses dug up the still-warm rock and gave it to a local schoolmaster.

It remained at the school until it was given to a collector in 2009.

The meteorite is a very rare, carbon-rich type known as a CM carbonaceous chondrite, the same kind as the one that fell in central California in 2012, triggering a meteorite hunt.

“CMs comprise less than 1 percent of all known meteorites,” geologist Marco Langbroek of the Free University in Amsterdam, where the Dutch meteorite underwent its first analysis, said.