Oldest solid material on Earth found in meteorite

Top Stories

This stuff is so old, it formed before we even had a planet.

A fragment of the Murchison meteorite, which fell on Australia in 1969. Organic matter of a type not produced biologically was found in the meteorite. (Photo: NASA)

A meteorite that crashed in Australia 50 years ago has been confirmed to contain the oldest known solid material on Earth — stardust from a time before our planet even was even formed.

“These are the oldest solid materials ever found, and they tell us about how stars formed in our galaxy,” Philipp Heck, a curator at the Field Museum and an associate professor at the University of Chicago, said in a statement.

According to a study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the materials are called presolar grains and are believed to be 4.6-to-7 billion years old. By comparison, our solar system, is only 4.5 billion years old, according to NASA. The grains became trapped in meteorites and remained unchanged.

RELATED: NASA testing inflatable space lodges

“It’s the next best thing to being able to take a sample directly from a star,” Jennika Greer, a graduate student at the Field Museum, said in a statement.

So how did they determine the age? Once scientists were able to separate the presolar grains from the rest of the meteorite, they measured the grains’ exposure to cosmic rays.

WATCH:

             
Find us on social media!

Latest headlines:

       
Get WZDX News and Weather on the go with our news & weather apps!

©TEGNA Inc. 2019. All Rights Reserved.

Get our WZDX News & Weather Apps

ANDROID
iOS
ANDROID
iOS