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7 billion years: Scientists say oldest solid material found

WASHINGTON – Researchers said on Monday (Jan 13) that new techniques have allowed them to identify the oldest solid material ever found on earth.

The stardust, formed five to seven billion years ago, came from a meteorite that fell to Earth 50 years ago in Australia, they said in a paper published in the journal PNAS.

It came down in 1969 in Murchison, Victoria state, and scientists from Chicago’s Field Museum have possessed a piece of it for five decades.

Philipp Heck, curator of meteorites at the museum, examined pre-solar grains, which are bits of stardust that become trapped in meteorites, making them time capsules of the period before the sun was born.

“They’re solid samples of stars, real stardust,” Heck said in a statement.

When the first stars died after two billion years of life they left behind the stardust, which formed into the block which fell to earth as the meteorite in Australia.

Although researchers first identified the grains in 1987 their age could not be determined.

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