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.