Ancient stardust in meteorite is older than Earth | 1/20/2020 | Paul Scott Anderson
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Graphic depicting a granola-like clump of stardust from the Egg Nebula. Image via NASA/ W. Sparks (STScI)/ R. Sahai (JPL)/ Janaína N. Ávila/ EurekAlert!.

As the saying goes, we are all made of stardust. It’s true. The elements in our bodies – oxygen, carbon, nitrogen, calcium and so on – are made in the thermonuclear furnaces of stars. When scientists speak of stardust, or cosmic dust, they’re speaking of the leftover tiny particles from dead stars that exploded as supernovae. This stardust later goes into forming new stars, planets and moons, including those in our own solar system. It goes into the solar system’s debris, the asteroids and comets, and ultimately into meteorites, or rocks from space that find their way to Earth’s surface. Now, scientists at the Field Museum in Chicago have found the oldest known samples of stardust in a meteorite that landed in Australia. The meteorite is estimated to be 5 to 7 billion years old. The stardust samples are the oldest material ever discovered on Earth. This dust is even older than our solar system.

Study - Proceedings - National - Academy - Sciences

The new peer-reviewed study was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on January 13, 2020.

Philipp Heck, a curator at the museum and lead author of the paper, said in a statement:

Studies - Materials - Stars - Galaxy

This is one of the most exciting studies I’ve worked on. These are the oldest solid materials ever found, and they tell us about how stars formed in our galaxy.

These particles, also known as presolar grains, are indeed really, really old. They formed long before our sun ever existed. As Heck commented:

Samples - Stars - Stardust

They’re solid samples of stars, real stardust.

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Author - Jennika - Greer - University - Chicago

Study-co author Jennika Greer at University of Chicago. She said, “Once learning about this, how do you want to study anything else?”...
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