Dallas_Two University of North Texas astronomers think they've found two pieces of a meteor that alarmed numerous residents when it streaked across the Texas sky on Sunday.
"It's black like charcoal. Underneath this crust the color of the rock is concrete like gray," said Ron DiLulio, director of the planetarium and astronomy lab program at the University of North Texas in Denton.
DiLulio and Preston Starr, UNT's observatory manager, said they found the pieces Wednesday in a pasture east of West, about 70 miles south of Dallas. They said the samples are "size of large pecans."
The astronomers placed the samples in ZipLoc bags to keep out the air. They planned to transfer the samples to membrane cases and take them to the university for additional study.
People on Sunday reported seeing a fireball streak across the sky and DiLulio said the reason it created such a fireball was because the meteor expanded and broke into pieces.
The pair said they were not alone in the search and ran into others including "a commercial meteorite hunter and we wanted to get there so we could have it first for science," DiLulio said.
"We did a lot of pre-planning. We looked at the angles of what they saw in the sky and we were able to map it all out. We put a plan together and we drove around small country roads. Texas has lots of small farm to market roads," Starr said.
DiLulio said he thinks there are larger pieces still to be found.
"We feel that there are probably several hundred pieces. What happens when these things fall - they may break apart. We want to find these early and study the primitive material before our atmosphere affects them," DiLulio said
He added that the pair haven't finished searching.
"Every time we find one, we mark where it is on the map and we can measure how much material actually hit the surface of the Earth," DiLulio said.
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