A fragment of the Murchison meteorite. Image Credit: United States Department of Energy
Scientists have identified the oldest material ever to make it onto our planet - and it even predates the Sun.
In a recent study, Philipp Heck - a geophysicist at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago - and colleagues conducted a detailed examination of grains recovered from the Murchison meteorite - a space rock that plummeted to Earth over Victoria, Australia in 1969 .
At up to seven billion years old, these tiny grains of stardust formed at a time before our planet - and even our solar system - existed at all.
Scientists believe that they were pulled into the meteorite as it traveled across the cosmos.
"We have more young grains that we expected," said Heck. "Our hypothesis is that the majority of those grains... formed in an episode of enhanced star formation."
"There was a time before the start of the solar system when more stars formed than normal."
The discovery is important because analyzing material that dates back to a time before our solar system can tell us a lot about the formation of stars in our galaxy.
"This is one of the most exciting studies I've worked on," said Heck.
Source: CNET.com | Comments (2)
Earth, Solar System