Report: Solar System 2 Million Years Older than Thought

This news come via the always excellent io9. Scientists have calculated that the solar system is 2 million years older than previously thought – which has huge implications.

From the io9 post:

An ancient meteorite reveals the solar system is 4.5682 billion years old, 1.9 million years older than we thought. The difference seems insignificant, but it could mean our solar system was actually born in the blast furnace of a supernova.

In order to determine the age of the solar system, scientists look for meteorites that date back to the beginnings of the solar system. Some of these meteorites have tiny mineral deposits known as calcium-aluminum-rich inclusions, or CAIs. These minerals were trapped and preserved inside the meteorites formed around them. Because CAIs are thought to be among the very first solids to condense out of the nebular gas that birthed the solar system, they provide the oldest possible measurement of the solar system’s age.

New analysis of meteorite NWA 2364, which touched down in Morocco in 2004, has revealed a centimeter-wide CAI that is 4.5682 billion years old. Arizona State researchers Meenakshi Wadhwa and Audrey Bouvier arrived at this date by measuring the presence of three different lead isotopes in the CAI, two of which are the product of uranium decay. Because uranium takes billions of years to fully decay into lead, it’s possible to measure the levels of decay and figure out an extremely precise age of the sample from the distribution of the isotopes.

Read the rest here at io9.

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