What are Meteors Made of?

Meteors, also called "shooting stars", have a long been mystery to man. Today astronomers feel they have a pretty good idea of what meteors are. They believe them to be broken fragments of comets. When comets break up, the millions of fragments continue to move through space as a meteor swarm or stream. The swarms move in regular orbits, or paths, through space singly.

Most individual meteors are quite small, but occasionally there are some weight many tones. They are usually destroyed entirely by heat when they pass through the earth’s atmosphere. Only the larger ones reach the earth. When a piece of meteor reaches the earth’s it is called a "meteorite".

The largest one found so far weighs between 60 and 70 tones and is still in its resting place in Africa.
There are two main kinds of meteorites. There are those composed chiefly or nickel and iron. These are called the "metallic" meteorites. Some are composed of mineral and lock like a piece of a igneous rock (rock formed by intense heat).


There are called the "stony" meteorites or "aerolites". The outer surfaces of either kind usually have black crusts which are the result of the terrific heat experienced in passing through the atmosphere to earth.

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