Sunday, 05 July, 2020


Scientists identify oldest material on Earth in meteorite

Oldest material on Earth discovered Today 10:16 Oldest material on Earth discovered
Kristine Garrett | 14 January, 2020, 10:12

Stardust forms in the material ejected from stars and carried by stellar winds, getting blown into interstellar space.

A team of researchers from the United States, Switzerland and Australia has found 4.6 to 7-billion-year-old presolar grains of silicon carbide (SiC) in the Murchison meteorite, a large C2 chondrite that fell in Australia in 1969.

"It starts with crushing fragments of the meteorite down into a powder", said co-author Jennika Greer, from the Field Museum and the University of Chicago. "This is the oldest solid materials ever discovered, and they tell us about how stars form in our galaxy".

The stardust is made of grains of presolar silicon carbide, a mineral formed before our solar system was born. "They're solid samples of stars".

"We have some grains which are a billion years older than the Sun, making them 5.5 billion years old ... a few grains that are 2 billion years older and we have one grain that is 3 billion years older [than the Sun]".

But presolar grains are hard to come by.

A new study of the presolar grains found on the Murchison meteorite was published yesterday by the National Academy of Sciences journal.

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

The meteorite contained fragments of stardust called presolar grains.

Experts studied presolar grains from it, which they managed to separate out from what they described as a "kind of paste" that smells like "rotten peanut butter". These "pre-solar grains" then get incorporated into new stars, planets, moons and meteorites.

Researchers compared the process to burning down a haystack to find the needle.

To work out how old the grains were, the researchers measured how long they had been exposed to cosmic rays in space. That means the scientists can measure the amount of these new elements in the grains to determine how long they were floating around in space - and, ultimately, how old they are.

Think of it this way: Imagine putting a bucket outside during a rainstorm. "Assuming the rainfall is constant, the volume of water that accumulates within the bucket tells you how prolonged it modified into as soon as uncovered", acknowledged Dr Heck.

Primarily essentially based on what number of cosmic rays had interacted with the grains, most wanted to be 4.6-4.9 billion years dilapidated.

Although researchers first identified the grains in 1987 their age could not be determined.

When a cosmic ray -a stream of high energy particles, mainly protons and alpha particles - penetrates a presolar grain it occasionally splits one of its carbon atoms into fragments.

Since presolar grains are formed when a star dies, they can tell us about the history of stars.

They also learned that seven billion years ago, more stars began to form.

He said: "This is one of the most exciting studies I've worked on".

In other words, he added, "there was a time before the start of the solar system when more stars formed than normal".

That makes this stardust is the oldest material from the solar system ever found on Earth. "No person thought this modified into as soon as doubtless at that scale", Philipp Heck explained.

Heck and his colleagues look forward to these discoveries furthering our knowledge of our galaxy.

What part of our solar system should be protected desert? "It's awesome; it's the most interesting thing in the world".

"With this study we are just starting this journey of exploring the history of the galaxy with meteorites", Heck says.

The material was at a meteorite that crashed to Earth in Australia fifty years back.

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