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Scientists say oldest solid material found

14 January 2020

The sun formed about 4.6 billion years ago, and Earth formed about 4.54 billion years ago. The undeniable fact that countless particles through the exact same duration had been discovered, would show that a birth trend of movie stars took place the Milky Way 7 billion years back.

The meteorite was known to contain so-called presolar grains - minerals released by stars at the end of their life - but it is only now that the age of the sample has been verified. "Some people think that the star formation rate of the galaxy is constant", says Heck.

Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. Fragments of the meteorite totaling 100 kg (220 lb) were found across an area of over 13 sq km (5 sq mi).

The authors acknowledge that their methodology, which uses neon isotopes to age grains, "suffers from relatively large uncertainties".

Recent observations from the European Space Agency's Gaia mission have revealed a possible trigger for the apparent increase in star formation.

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

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"These are the oldest solid materials ever found, and they tell us how the stars formed in our galaxy". They're between 5 billion and 7 billion years old.

Microscopic grains of dead stars are the oldest known material on the planet - older than the Moon, Earth and the solar system itself. That spectrometer is the only one on the planet sensitive enough to detect the trace amounts of neon gas trapped in the stardust, he said. The chemical attack destroyed everything but the stardust grains, which are made of an exceptionally hard mineral called silicon carbide.

Dissolving the paste in the acid reveals the presolate grains, allowing researchers to determine their age and the type of star to which they once belonged.

Most presolar grains measure about 1 micron in length, or are even smaller. About 30 years ago it was found that the rocks housed "presolar grains" - tiny grains of silicon carbide older than the Sun.

"We have more young grains than we expected", said Professor Heck. These rays are excessive-energy particles that depart via our galaxy and penetrate solid subject.

"Some of these cosmic rays interact with the matter and form new elements", Dr Heck said. "And the longer they get exposed, the more those elements form", Heck explained.

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Fifty years ago, a meteorite fell to Earth and landed in Australia, taking with it a rare sample of interstellar space. Our sun, by comparison, is 4.6 billion years old, and Earth is 4.5 billion years old.

Researchers have learned that some of the presolar grains in their sample are the oldest ever discovered on Earth. The majority, about 60 percent, predated the solar system by 300 million years or fewer, according to the study. Heck said about 70,000 meteorites are now known to science, and of those, "at most 5% of these contain presolar grains".

But the Field Museum has the largest portion of the Murchison meteorite, a treasure trove of presolar grains that fell in Victoria, Australia, in 1969.

Co-author Jennika Greer, a graduate student at the Field Museum and the University of Chicago, said: "Once all the pieces are segregated, it's a kind of paste, and it has a pungent characteristic - it smells like rotten peanut butter".

Understanding the grains illuminated not only the stars and the duration of their star dust, but also a better understanding of the galaxies and their chronology.

It provided new evidence to a debate about whether new stars form at a steady rate, or whether there are highs and lows in the number of new stars over time. The new study is evidence of the latter.

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Scientists say oldest solid material found