Oldest meteorite ever found helps show how the solar system began

Mindy Sparks
August 9, 2018

Approximately 4.5 billion years ago, the catastrophic explosion of a massive star, a supernova, caused an vast cloud of cosmic dust and gas to come together and form our solar system. Astronomers tried to understand how our Earth began to support life and could there be life in other solar systems, - informs the newspaper The Independent. Now contemporary research has warranted scientists from The University of New Mexico, Arizona State University and NASA's Johnson Space Center to append one more section of that puzzle with the finding of the oldest ever determined igneous meteorite.

It wasn't immediately clear that the rock was extraterrestrial because of its light color, the researchers told Live Science.

"The objective of this research was to understand the origin and formation time of an unusually silica-rich igneous meteorite", says co-author and ASU's Center for Meteorite Studies director, Meenakshi Wadhwa. Not only is this an exceptionally abnormal rock type, its vociferating that not all asteroids appear the same. "Some of them look nearly like the crust of the Earth because they're so light colored and full of [silica]", Agee said. At 4.6 billion years old, NWA 11119 is the oldest igneous meteorite ever discovered. "Therefore, this likely implies that carbonaceous chondrite organics were formed through chemical reactions in the early Solar System, rather than having been inherited from the interstellar medium".

Scientists have analysed one of the meteorites that formed during this period before crashing down on Earth 4.5 billion years later.

Most meteorites are formed through the collision of asteroids orbiting the sun in a region called the asteroid belt.

The tumultuous period during the birth of the Solar System saw space rocks swarming around the growing gravitational field of the Sun and colliding at a rapid rate to form the planets, moons and meteors we see today.

Decrepit igneous meteorite entails indication to planet building blocks.

"It has the highest abundance of silica and the most ancient age (4.565 billion years old) of any known igneous meteorite", said Daniel Dunlap, the study's co-author. As a result, the meteorite provides the evidence of some of the first volcanic activity on Earth. "Meteorites like this were the precursors to planet formation and represent a critical step in the evolution of rocky bodies in our solar system".

"Chondrites are a snapshot of the early Solar System, providing key insights on how protoplanets and planets formed and were processed", according to study lead Romain Tartèse of Manchester's School of Earth and Environmental Sciences. They thought it belonged to the Earth.

Carbonaceous chondrites are made of the first solid materials - such as rocks, organics, water ice, and fine grain dust - formed in the Solar System. "Ultimately, this is how planets are forged".

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