7-billion-year-old stardust is the oldest material ever found on Earth

CNET | 1/13/2020 | Staff
echoleaecholea (Posted by) Level 3
Click For Photo: https://cnet4.cbsistatic.com/img/VpvCHN43nmIFGiUzveWuMSpJzwg=/756x567/2020/01/13/c874eb57-3efc-475e-91cb-bae09c48c55a/murchison-meteorite.png

This is a fragment of the Murchison meteorite. The total mass of the meteorite's fragments collected is around 100 kg, or 220 pounds.

The Australian town of Murchison, Victoria, is home to fewer than 1,000 people but is one of the most important sites in the history of astronomy. In 1969, a huge meteorite fell to Earth, breaking up in the atmosphere and showering fragments of space rock south of the town. Decades later, researchers have discovered that locked inside those fragments were minuscule grains of stardust, the oldest material ever known to reach the planet.

Researchers - Grains - Years - System - Years

Researchers have found grains that are likely 5 billion to 7 billion years old -- older than our solar system, which formed about 4.6 billion years ago.

"This is one of the most exciting studies I've worked on," Philipp Heck, a geophysicist at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago and first author on a paper about the grains, said Monday in a statement.

Materials - Stars - Galaxy

"These are the oldest solid materials ever found, and they tell us about how stars formed in our galaxy."

The paper, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, details how Heck and other colleagues examined 40 grains of stardust that were taken from the Murchison meteorite three decades ago. To determine the age of the grains, they studied isotopes of the element neon, which interact with cosmic rays in...
(Excerpt) Read more at: CNET
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