Credits: REUTERS/University of Hawaii/Terry Lovejoy/Australia
The explosion sent a shock wave of fire down over the Sahara desert, the South African researchers say. This heated the sand to 2,000 C and resulted in the formation of yellow silica glass, which was used by ancient jewellers, and microscopic diamonds.
The key to the research was a black pebble found by an Egyptian geologist. After thorough analysis, the researchers determined it was the first known specimen of a comet nucleus.
"Comets always visit our skies - they're these dirty snowballs of ice mixed with dust - but never before in history has material from a comet ever been found on Earth," David Block of Wits University in Johannesburg said in a release.
The research will be published in Earth and Planetary Science Letters.