UC Davis researchers have dated the earliest step in the formation of the solar system -- when microscopic interstellar dust coalesced into mountain-sized chunks of rock -- to 4,568 million years ago, within a range of about 2,080,000 years.
UC Davis postdoctoral researcher Frederic Moynier, Qing-zhu Yin, assistant professor of geology, and graduate student Benjamin Jacobsen established the dates by analyzing a particular type of meteorite, called a carbonaceous chondrite, which represents the oldest material left over from the formation of the solar system.
The physics and timing of this first stage of planet formation are not well understood, Yin said. So, putting time constraints on the process should help guide the physical models that could be used to explain it.
Friday, December 21, 2007
The Solar System's birthday discovered. More or less.