Nothing says “I love you” on Valentine’s Day like the cosmic gift of a heart-shaped space rock that has hurtled through the cosmos to find its way into your shopping cart. Come February, you will have the chance to bid for and buy your sweetheart a fabulous heart-shaped meteorite — the ultimate Valentine’s Day gift forged amid the stars.
According to CNN, one such meteorite will be put up for auction for just this special occasion. The British auction house Christie’s is organizing an online bidding event to auction off a number of 45 iron meteorites. The crowning jewel of this collection is a remarkable heart-shaped space rock.
Dubbed the “Heart of Space” by Christie’s, this celestial rock is extremely valuable and is expected to fetch anywhere between $300,000 and $500,000. The stunning piece is described as one of the “finest of all aesthetic iron meteorites” and has an incredible backstory that makes it all the more extraordinary and unique.
It Is 4.5-Billion-Years-Old
Just like the other iron meteorites up for auction this February, the exquisite heart-shaped piece is one of the famous Sikhote-Alin meteorites. These space rocks splintered off of a staggering mass of iron meteorite that plummeted to Earth more than 70 years ago, exploding into the atmosphere above Siberia in Russia.
One fairly large Sikhote-Alin meteorite — not included in the auction — is currently displayed in the American Museum of Natural History’s Hall of Meteorites.
The Sikhote-Alin meteorite shower fell in Siberia on Feb 12, 1947. Geologists spent 2 cold winter days searching for the impact site. Expeditions to Sikhote-Alin have gathered more than 29 tons of meteorite fragments, but perhaps twice that amount remains on or under the ground. pic.twitter.com/Hq7ICXbuLd
— American Museum of Natural History (@AMNH) February 12, 2018
The heart-shaped meteorite is estimated to be 4.5-billion-years-old and originated in the asteroid belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. The space rock was part of a massive chunk of iron that broke off from a larger asteroid some 320 million years ago — or more than 70 million years before the first dinosaurs appeared, explains the Christie’s website.
‘Nearly Destroyed Siberia’
The vast mass of iron rock sailed through space until it landed in our neck of the woods. On February 2, 1947, the massive space rock slammed into Earth’s atmosphere, breaking apart over Siberia’s Sikhote-Alin mountain range in a spectacular meteor shower that rained fireballs across the sky.
Traveling at more than over 31,000 miles per hour, the meteor exploded in low-atmosphere, creating a massive shockwave that “collapsed chimneys, shattered windows and uprooted trees,” notes the Christie’s website.
“Sonic booms were heard more than 300 kilometers away and a 33-kilometer long smoke trail persisted in the sky for several hours. Many of the resulting meteorites produced impact craters as large as 26 meters — with nearly 200 craters having been cataloged.”
The awe-inspiring celestial event pummeled Sikhote-Alin with 200,000 pounds of pure iron. “It was very romantic,” states Live Science, which refers to the heart-shaped space rock as “the meteorite that nearly destroyed Siberia.”
— Live Science (@LiveScience) January 30, 2019
“This was the biggest meteorite shower of the last several thousand years, and to the onlookers, it must have seemed like the end of the world,” said Christie’s Science and Natural History specialist James Hyslop.
“It is miraculous that no one was killed.”
The astonishing meteor shower was later commemorated by the Soviet Union in a postage stamp issued in 1957 — a reproduction of a famous painting of the event by artist and eyewitness P.I. Medvedev.
— Doctor Chaos (@AntGill77) August 23, 2017
Buy It For Valentine’s Day
While not all Sikhote-Alin meteorites look particularly desirable, the heart-shaped piece is imbued with a certain amount of elegance. Unlike many of its siblings, which resemble jagged, twisted pieces of shrapnel — a testament of their hellish descent toward our planet’s surface — the “Heart of Space” is one of the “more sought-after smooth, gently scalloped specimens.”
The meteorite owes its allure to its distinctive heart shape — “a very rarely seen shape,” which resulted from the accidental fracture along its “crystalline planes,” notes Christie’s — as well as to the thumbprint-like indentations that cover its body. These are called regmaglypts and were produced during the meteorite’s fiery plunge through Earth’s atmosphere.
“A rich caramel patina further accents this splendid meteorite.”
At the same time, the Heart of Space garnered its comparatively smoother look as a result of it breaking off at a much higher altitude than other pieces. Last but not least, the specimen belongs to an uncommon group of iron meteorites known as IIAB.
“There are currently 134 type IIAB iron meteorites, out of a total of over 60,000 known meteorites, so this type is fairly rare,” Sarah Crowther, a specialist from the University of Manchester’s School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, told CNN.
The heart-shaped meteorite, which belongs to a private collector, can now be purchased for Valentine’s Day. Online bidding starts as early as next week, on February 6, and will remain open until February 14.