TEMPE, Ariz., Aug. 23 (UPI) — Study of a meteorite found in the Sahara Desert suggests the solar system may be almost 2 million years older than previously thought, researchers say.
A study found the meteorite contained pieces of calcium- and aluminum-rich substances, some of the oldest material ever found in primordial rocks and believed to be among the first solids that condensed from gas at the beginning of the solar system’s formation, ScienceNews.org reported Monday.
The age of the material suggests the solar system formed 4,500 million years ago, as much as 1.9 million years earlier than other estimates.
“All the interesting things we want to understand about the chemistry of our solar system happened within the first five to 10 million years,” study coauthor Meenakshi Wadhwa, a cosmochemist from Arizona State University, says. “When you push it back by 2 million years, that’s a substantial proportion of that 5 to 10 million years.”
The 3-pound softball-sized meteorite was found in Morocco in 2004.
“It’s like crime-scene investigation four and a half billion years after the scene is vacated,” astrophysicist Alan Boss of the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, D.C. says. “We’re coming toward more of a cohesive picture of how things happened.”
The results were published online Aug. 22 in Nature Geoscience.
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