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Not sure if here or physics is the best place for this question, but if there was a meteor that had gold in it, what happens to that metal during entry of the Earth's atmosphere? Since gold melts at 1948° F (1046°C) and boils at 5378° F (2970°C), and Space.com says a meteor reaches about 3000° F (1650 °C) on average, even if that's just the surface temp, some gold would liquify (I think). I'm guessing depending on the angle of entry, it could retain enough velocity to leave the atmosphere, but I think at least it some cases, it could rain down as either liquid or solid gold and would be gold meteorites.

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    $\begingroup$ No meteorites made of or containing native Gold ever found. Current hypotheses for how asteroids form don't include any processes that would concentrate Gold into veins, grains or nuggets; what little Gold there is is dissolved/alloyed within Nickel Iron. Metallic meteorites are invariably Nickel-Iron with other metals mixed in. $\endgroup$
    – Ken Fabian
    Apr 14 at 22:26
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    $\begingroup$ The answers to this space.stackexchange question could be relevant - space.stackexchange.com/questions/27329/… $\endgroup$
    – Ken Fabian
    Apr 14 at 22:44
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    $\begingroup$ @uhoh - sampling Psyche will be interesting and yes, material formed by processes that don't happen in solar system formation can come from elsewhere, so no, I won't say impossible. But geological processes that concentrate gold into veins and nuggets within Earth appear incompatible with the processes forming the asteroids. Active geology over long time frames, with magmatic and hydrothermal processes are believed necessary and whatever got smashed up for asteroids weren't big enough long enough. Most gold ends up dissolved in nickel-iron. $\endgroup$
    – Ken Fabian
    Apr 15 at 21:26
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    $\begingroup$ Very often, the surprising things that are found are not in contrary with the things that we already know. They're usually in the realm of "we know it's theoretically possible, we just didn't think it would be there". Having gold in one of those is safely in realm of "most likely not even possible". In geology (and exogeology) we never say never, but someone has to put a line somewhere on what is even remotely plausible. $\endgroup$
    – Gimelist
    Apr 17 at 14:17
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    $\begingroup$ @uhoh and to follow up on this, there are many processes that lead to the formation of extreme concentrations of gold on Earth. These require unique processes that can only happen on Earth, and not on any other rocky planets that we know of. You can envisage gold being volatile on Venus for example (vapour pressure at 450 C) and condensing as the pure element somewhere because of whatever catalysis reaction we haven't though of before, but it's very much unlikely. $\endgroup$
    – Gimelist
    Apr 17 at 14:20
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As it melted, it would be broken up into a spray or even a mist by the airstream. The droplets would quickly slow down to their terminal velocity and solidify, so you would get a fine gold dust imperceptibly falling over a wide area.

I am basing this on my admittedly incomplete understanding of meteors that do not contain gold. When the one in Russia some years ago exploded, it didn't vaporize, but only so many pieces were found.

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    $\begingroup$ Good point. Added the word "entirely". I know the answer could still be better. $\endgroup$ Apr 14 at 22:43
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Would a gold-containing meteor cause it to “rain” gold?

No.

First, it is a bit unclear what do you mean by "gold-containing meteor". All solar system bodies have gold, the question is how much. For this answer I will assume that you mean a meteorite with chunks of visible gold nuggets in it, nothing that this is a hypothetical concept as no such meteorites are known or expected.

Meteors, when in space, are very very very very cold. Their travel duration in Earth's atmosphere is very short, just a couple of seconds. Actual melting only occurs at the very most outer layer of the meteorite. This is not sufficient to heat up the interior of the meteorite to any significant degree. In fact, some meteorite falls have found to have frost on them when found soon after landing, because they condense the moisture in the air around them! Some meteorites still contain organic material which would be destroyed at much lower temperature than the melting point of gold.

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  • $\begingroup$ Maybe the OP's question is inspired by Jule Verne's description of a golden meteor, a story however leaning more toward the description of society, than a neuter only-facts and science based report about astronomy. In the story, the meteor eventually lands on Greenland's shelf, than drops into the water. $\endgroup$
    – Buttonwood
    Apr 15 at 17:26
  • $\begingroup$ @Gimelist The Title now isn't Original, Gimelist. $\endgroup$
    – MooseSmart
    Apr 15 at 18:52
  • $\begingroup$ @BearSmart I'm not sure what you mean by your comment. $\endgroup$
    – Gimelist
    Apr 15 at 22:50
  • $\begingroup$ @Gimelist what im saying is, somebody edited the title, to make it say "Gold-containing meteor" instead of "Golden Meteor". $\endgroup$
    – MooseSmart
    Apr 18 at 22:20
  • $\begingroup$ @BearSmart ok. I only saw the question with "gold-containing" and my answer refers to that. $\endgroup$
    – Gimelist
    Apr 18 at 23:41

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