Fifty years ago, a meteorite fell to Earth and landed in Australia, carrying with it a rare sample from interstellar space. A new analysis of the meteorite revealed stardust that formed between five to seven billion years ago. That makes the meteorite and its stardust the oldest solid material ever discovered on Earth.
Our sun is around 4.6 billion years old, meaning this stardust existed long before our sun or solar system were even a reality. The stardust found on the meteorite are called presolar grains because they formed before our sun.
Stars are born when gas, dust and heat combine in just the right way. They can exist for millions or even billions of years before dying and expelling their key ingredients into space. This in turn helps new stars to be born, creating a space daisy chain.
Meteorites, if they don’t knock into too many things, can act like time capsules of the materials trapped within them, like stardust. That’s why the discovery of the presolar grains is such a rarity — only 5% of meteorites found on Earth contain them. Their impossibly tiny size is difficult to fathom.
One hundred of the largest found presolar grains could fit on a period, according to a release by the Field Museum in Chicago.
Read more about the oldest material on Earth that has been found in a meteorite on the CNN.com website HERE