An object believed to be a meteorite blasted through the roof of a New Jersey house.
Someone call Chicken Little because, in New Jersey, the sky really is falling. CBS News reports that a metallic object believed to be a meteorite fell out of the sky and through the roof of a house in Hopewell Township, New Jersey, on Monday. Luckily there were no injuries.
The meteorite arrived in the Garden State just after 1 p.m. and made quite an impression—literally. “We are thinking it’s a meteorite, came through here, hit the floor here because that’s completely damaged, it ricocheted up to this part of the ceiling and then finally rested on the floor there,” said Suzy Kop, one of the owners of the house. Kop said the four by six inch metallic space rock entered her home through the roof of her father’s room upstairs, but luckily he wasn’t home at the time.
In fact, according to Kop, no one was home to witness the interstellar party crasher. When she came home to the debris from the meteorite’s entry, she initially thought someone had thrown a rock through her house. Suzy admitted to touching the meteorite, thinking it was just a random rock, and was shocked to find it radiating heat.
Kop eventually realized her hot-space rock was more than meets the eye and called the authorities. Emergency responders came to the house and did a thorough examination of Suzy and the rest of her family. “They were afraid that, you know because it fell from the sky, was it radioactive?” recounted Kop. According to Kop, the emergency responders were concerned that the family could have some kind of residue on them from the meteorite, but after scanning them found that they were uncontaminated.
The meteorite’s origins are still being investigated, but police believe it may be related to the ongoing Eta Aquarid meteor shower. The meteor shower is active between April 15 and May 27 and owes its origin to Halley’s comet.
Many meteorites are actually remnants of debris from passing comets flying close to the Earth. A larger celestial entity called a meteoroid is left behind in the comet’s wake and makes its way down to the planet’s surface. The meteoroid breaks down into smaller pieces as it falls through Earth’s atmosphere until there’s nothing left but a chunk the size of the one that fell through the Kop’s house.
Derrick Pitts, the chief astronomer at the Franklin Institute, estimates the meteorite’s age at roughly four to five billion years old. A souvenir from the beginning of the Solar System. While thousands of meteorites make their way down to Earth’s surface every year, they rarely crash through people’s roofs.
“For it to actually strike a house, for people to be able to pick up, that’s really unusual and has happened very few times in history.” said Pitts. A study by Harvard University found that based on records from the last century or so, one meteorite every year hits some kind of human-built structure. And that’s any human-made structure, not specifically private homes.
The odds of a meteorite hitting a house have been calculated to be somewhere in the ballpark of 1 in 3,921,910,064,328, making Suzy Kop either very lucky or very unlucky, depending on how you look at it. One person who is definitely lucky is Suzy’s father. While it’s already extremely rare for a meteorite to hit a human—records indicate that nobody has been killed by a falling meteorite since 1929—being out of the room when the rock came hurtling through the roof couldn’t have hurt.