Published: Tue, January 14, 2020
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Oldest material ever found on Earth predates the entire solar system

Oldest material ever found on Earth predates the entire solar system

The oldest material ever found on Earth has been identified, with scientists finding seven billion-year-old grains inside a meteorite that crashed in Australia 50 years ago. Heck and colleagues examined formed before our Sun was born. These high-energy particles flit around space and can pass through solid matter, creating new elements inside the existing minerals as they interact with them.

The oldest grains are more than 5.5 billion years old, long before the sun was formed 4.6 billion years ago.

The Field Museum acquired 52 kilograms of the Murchison meteorite, and has spent a great deal of time studying it.

BBC revealed that a team of experts had described the result of the study that managed to make this discovery in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The paste of ground-up meteorite released a stench "like rotten peanut butter", study co-author Jennika Greer, a graduate student at the Field Museum and the University of Chicago, said in a statement.

The researchers discovered the tiny grains in the meteorite by crushing rock fragments and separating the components in a paste that smelled like rotten peanut butter. It was then dissolved with acid until only grains of star dust remained.

"It's like burning down the haystack to find the needle".

The conclusion was that based on how the cosmic rays interacted with the grains, a lot of them had to be about 4.9 billion years old. Materials form new elements on exposure to cosmic radiations.


Presolar grains are more abundant in what we would call these primitive meteorites, Professor Bland said. After isolating the presolar grains, Heck and colleagues found majority dated to between 4.6 and 4.9 billion years.

For context, our Sun is about 4.6 billion years old, and Earth is around 4.5 billion. "These are the oldest solid materials ever found, and they tell us about how stars formed in our galaxy". And 7 billion years ago, there was apparently a bumper crop of new stars forming-a sort of astral baby boom. The oldest-known minerals that formed on Earth are found in rock from Australia's Jack Hills that formed 4.4 billion years ago, 100 million years after the planet formed.

The star dust represented time capsules in front of the solar system.

"Some people think that the star formation rate of the galaxy is constant", says Heck. Stars are born when gas, dust and heat combine in the right way.

Understanding the grains has shed light not only on stars and how long their stardust can last but also more on galaxies and their timelines. The undeniable fact that countless particles through the exact same duration had been discovered, would show that a birth trend of movie stars took place the Milky Way 7 billion years back.

This finding is fresh evidence in a debate between scientists about whether or not new stars form at a steady rate, or if there are highs and lows in the number of new stars over time. "Stardust is the oldest material to reach Earth, and from it, we can learn about our parent stars, the origins of the carbon in our bodies, the origin of the oxygen we breathe". But they offer astronomers insight into how stars formed in the early stages of our galaxy. "The incredible thing is we have a rock in our collection that we just take out of the cabinet and learn something about the history of our galaxy".

When small to medium stars (from about 0.5 to 5 times the mass of the Sun) approach the ends of their lives, they expand into red giant stars and blow off their outer layers.

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