A meteorite that crashed into a New Jersey home on Monday likely came from a cosmic snowball more than three billion miles from Earth.
The space rock – the size of a pork roll sandwich- landed in Hopewell and crashed through the roof of a home, smashing onto a wooden floor.
Officials believe the meteorite was part of the Eta Aquarid shower, which features chunks of debris from the famous Halley’s Comet.
The Eta Aquarid shower is active between April 15 and May 27, which peaks May 5 through 6 and produces shooting stars even one week later.
The black metallic object, which shot through the roof of a residence in Hopewell, measures six inches by four inches and weighs four pounds
The Hopewell Township Police Department (HTPD) issues a report shortly after news of the meteorite crashing through the central New Jersey home.
‘A metallic object believed to be a meteorite struck the roof of a residence on Old Washington Crossing Pennington Rd,’ the department shared.
‘The ranch-style home was occupied at the time, but no injuries were reported.
‘HTPD has contacted several other agencies for assistance in positively identifying the object and safeguarding the residents and the object.
‘This may be related to a current Meteor shower called the Eta Aquariids. The investigation is ongoing. ‘
Halley is often called the most famous comet because it marked the first time astronomers understood comets could be repeated visitors to our night skies.
And scientists have been able to link the comet’s appearance to observations dating back more than 2,000 years.
The comet has not visited Earth since 1986 and will not return until 2061 on its regular 76-year journey around the Sun.
Halley’s is currently sitting near the constellation of Hydra, which is about 133.8 light-years distant from Earth.
Every year the Earth passes through these debris trails, which allows the bits to collide with our atmosphere, where they disintegrate to create fiery and colorful streaks in the sky.
The pieces of space debris that interact with our atmosphere to create the Eta Aquarid originate from comet 1P/Halley.
Officials believe the meteorite is part of the Eta Aquarid shower, which features chunks of debris from the famous Halley’s Comet
The space rock shot right through the roof, leaving a gaping hole in the ceiling
The central New Jersey officials believe the meteorite originated from this month’s meteor shower
Each time Halley returns to the inner solar system, its nucleus sheds a layer of ice and rock into space.
The dust grains eventually become the Eta Aquarids in May and the Orionids in October if they collide with Earth’s atmosphere.
And the central New Jersey officials believe the meteorite originated from this month’s meteor shower.
Suzy Kop, whose family owns the home, said they thought someone had thrown a rock into an upstairs bedroom on Monday but soon realized that was not the case.
‘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,’ Kop told KYW.
Officials said no injuries were reported from the meteorite crashing into the home. The space rock also left a mark on the floor
‘I did touch the thing because it thought it was a random rock, I don’t know, and it was warm.’
Kop said hazmat officials responded to their home in case she and her family had been exposed to radioactive material, but those checks were all negative.
Kop said she was thankful that no one was at the house when it happened.
Chief astronomer at the Franklin Institute, Derrick Pitts, said the rock could be four to five billion years old.
‘It’s been running around in space all that time, and now it’s come to earth and it fell right into their laps, but for it to actually strike a house and people be able to pick up, that’s really unusual. It has happened very few times in history,’ he said.
NASA said anyone who thinks they have found a meteorite must contact the Smithsonian.
‘Although meteorites tend to hit Earth’s atmosphere at high speeds, they slow as they travel through the atmosphere, breaking into small fragments before hitting the ground,’ NASA said.
‘Meteorites cool rapidly and generally are not a risk to the public.’