A metallic chemical element; symbol Ir. Atomic number 77; atomic weight 192.22; melting point about 2,410°C; boiling point about 4,130°C; specific gravity 22.55 at 20°C. Iridium is a very hard, usually brittle, extremely corrosion-resistant silver-white metal with a face-centered cubic crystalline structure. The unusually high concentration of iridium found in the thin clay layer that marks the boundary between the Cretaceous and Tertiary rocks is attributed to an asteroid impact with Earth 65 million years ago.
Iridium coined 1804 by its discoverer, E. chemist Smithson Tennant (1761-1815) from Gk. → iris "rainbow;" so called for the varying color of its compounds.