Photo in the News: Mysterious Space Object Crashes Into House

Metallic rock that crashed into house in New Jersey photo
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January 5, 2007—It looks like a shiny lump of fool's gold, and it certainly has authorities fooled as to just what it is.

This metallic rocklike object crashed through the roof of a New Jersey home on January 2, ripping through the ceiling and ricocheting off a tiled bathroom floor before lodging in a wall.

No one was hurt by the impact, but local detectives trying to identify the mysterious debris may have their professional egos a little bruised.

"I've never seen anything like it in my career," Lt. Robert Brightman of the Freehold Township Police Department told the Associated Press at a press conference yesterday.

Experts from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration have already inspected the 13-ounce (0.4 kilogram) lump and determined that it is not a stray airplane part.

Another test found that the object is not radioactive, although it does appear to be magnetic.

Some astronomers have speculated that that the object could be a meteorite, since the Quadrantid meteor shower occurs annually in early January.

But meteor showers typically involve small particles of icy rock, not big metal chunks, so if the mass is a meteorite, it's likely an unusual one.

Other theories have suggested that the lump is a tool lost by an astronaut or flotsam from an orbiting satellite that melted as it entered Earth's atmosphere.

Brightman said scientists are currently testing the object and hope to have results by the end of the week.

—Blake de Pastino

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