A mass of stone or iron which has fallen to the earth from space; an aerolite.

Meteorites usually show a pitted surface with a fused crust, caused by the heat developed in their rapid passage through the earth's atmosphere. A meteorite may consist: 1. Of metallic iron, alloyed with a small percentage of nickel (meteoric iron, holosiderite). When etched this usually exhibits peculiar crystalline figures, called Widmanstatten figures. 2. Of a cellular mass of iron with imbedded silicates (mesosiderite or siderolite). 3. Of a stony mass of silicates with little iron (meteoric stone, sporadosiderite). 4. Of a mass without iron (asiderite).

Origin: Cf. F. Meteorite.

(01 Mar 1998)

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