Washington: Scientists, while analysing a meteorite, have discovered the oldest solid material known to exist on Earth.
A meteorite that crashed into rural southeastern Australia in 1969 contained the oldest material ever found on Earth, stardust that predated the formation of our solar system by billions of years, scientists said on January 13.
The oldest of 40 tiny dust grains trapped inside the meteorite fragments retrieved around the town of Murchison in Victoria state dated from about 7 billion years ago, about 2.5 billion years before the sun, Earth and rest of our solar system formed, the researchers said.
As per scientists, this ancient interstellar dust, made of presolar grains was belched into the universe by dying stars during the final stages of their lives.
”When stars die, particles formed within them are flung out into space. These “pre-solar grains” then get incorporated into new stars, planets, moons and meteorites. They’re solid samples of stars, real stardust,” said lead author Philipp Heck, a curator at Chicago’s Field Museum and associate professor at the University of Chicago.
The stardust represented time capsules dating to before the solar system and forms in the material ejected from stars and carried by stellar winds, getting blown into interstellar space.
The team found that most of these grains were between 4.6 and 4.9 billion years old. The Sun itself is at the younger end of that range, at 4.6 billion years old, while the Earth didn’t form until 4.5 billion years ago.