I've asked earlierin this unanswered question about an "extinct species" of meteorite, now I've just read in Phys.org about Barbarian asteroids:

Named after the first asteroid of this type discovered, Barbara (234), Barbarians are a key to understanding how the solar system first formed. Barbarians are extremely rare and ancient, and were present before the Earth was created. Only 13 Barbarians have ever been discovered.

Are these two different types of extremely rare materials, or are the "extinct" meteorites actually products of the "rare Barbarian" asteroids?

From: UWA Zadko Telescope helps reconstruct 'Barbarian' asteroids.


1 Answer 1


The answer is in the part of the abstract that you quote in your other question:

"...This may be the first documented example of an ‘extinct’ meteorite, that is, a meteorite type that does not fall on Earth today because its parent body has been consumed by collisions."

What they're saying here is that there used to exist some asteroids of some particular type (here they mean formed from the pieces of a single body). After some time all asteroids of that type were destroyed in collisions, fell on planets or into the sun or were ejected from the solar system. Some of the pieces fell on Earth. As far as we can tell there are no pieces left in solar orbit and so none of these type of meteorite fall on Earth any more, hence it is called "extinct".

Since the Barbarian asteroids currently exist, they are by definition not extinct.

  • $\begingroup$ However, prior to the discovery of the few catalogued Barbarian asteroids, they would have been presumed extinct. $\endgroup$
    – called2voyage
    Nov 29, 2016 at 19:59
  • $\begingroup$ @called2voyage 234 Barbara was discovered in the 1800s, according to Wikipedia. So this explanation seems impossible. $\endgroup$
    – user25972
    Nov 29, 2016 at 20:10
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, given that "extinct meteorite" is a new term and the known Barbarian asteroids have been long since discovered, it does appear that in this case "extinct meteorite" would not be used. Thus the "would have been" in my original comment. I did upvote your answer. $\endgroup$
    – called2voyage
    Nov 29, 2016 at 20:13
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for you analysis, and clear explanation! It's sometimes tricky when a term from one field of science is borrowed for another, now I finally understand what is meant by the use of "extinct" there, and that Barbarian asteroids are still "alive and well and still kicking" so-to-speak. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Nov 30, 2016 at 0:54

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