Types of meteorite

There are three main groups of meteorite. They differ in the amount of iron-nickel metal they contain.

  • iron meteorites are almost completely metal
  • stony-iron meteorites have nearly equal amounts of metal and silicate crystals
  • stony meteorites are dominated by silicate minerals

Each group of meteorites is split into many more classes and types depending on the minerals they contain, their chemistry and their structure.

  • Iron meteorite
    Iron meteorites

    Most iron meteorites are thought to be the cores of asteroids that melted early in their history. They consist mainly of iron-nickel metal with small amounts of sulphide and carbide minerals.

  • Stony iron
    Stony-iron meteorites

    Stony-iron meteorites consist of almost equal amounts of iron-nickel metal and silicate minerals and are amongst the most beautiful of meteorites.

  • Stony meteorite
    Stony meteorites

    The majority of meteorite falls are stony meteorites consisting mainly of silicate minerals.

Cartoon image of a hatchet fish on a museum pass

In World War II the Museum was used as a secret base to develop new gadgets for allied spies, including an exploding rat!