back to article Geoboffins find the oldest matter on Earth: Ancient stardust created before the Solar System formed

Boffins think they have found the oldest known substance on Earth, dust grains that were formed around five to seven billion years ago - before the Solar System had even formed. “This is one of the most exciting studies I’ve worked on,” said Philipp Heck, lead author of the paper published in the Proceedings of the National …

  1. sbt

    "...which landed in Australia over 50 years."

    I thought they arrived more rapidly than that.

    In any case, I'd have thought most of the heavy elements (e.g. > Iron) on Earth are older than the Sun, since they must have been created elsewhere.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "...which landed in Australia over 50 years."

      All gold on earth was created in supernova (exploding suns) that were obviously not our sun.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Re: "...which landed in Australia over 50 years."

        The problem is that elements found on Earth, most of which have interstellar origins, have been affected by Earth to the point that dating them is problematic. Thus the search for elements (and isotopes) in meteorites that have mainly been affected by cosmic rays.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "...which landed in Australia over 50 years."

          I tried carbon dating once - I didn't like the soot on my cock!


  2. Denarius Silver badge

    asumptions, assumptions

    err, if there was a starburst formation event, wouldn't the cosmic ray intensity spike as it ran down and the bigger stars did the neutron dance. Not to mention the odd stellar black holes or dozen. Threfore using cosmic ray intensity as a static value be off ?

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: asumptions, assumptions

      Yup. The initial assumption with carbon dating was that the constant cosmic ray flux would lead to a constant level of carbon 14 in the atmosphere. Then it was realised that the constant wasn't and that plus other factors resulted in variations so now we have calibrations from dendro samples.



    I'm quite happy to accept all of this as true or plausible. Where did the stuff that sticks all this dust come from? If it's not from the sun, it could be older than the granules themselves.

    1. Killing Time

      Re: Glue

      These granules were formed early on and then have probably been through the gravitational mangle multiple times where they became part of bodies along with younger material. To be broken up, reformed ( probably a number of times), finally only to crash and burn on the surface of our planet. All the material being manufactured by successive generations of stars. There is no glue other than what gravity did to it.

      The granules age with respect to our Sun has no significance, The Sun is a mere baby by comparison.

      1. Spherical Cow

        Re: Glue


        They aren't finished yet. Right now they may be sitting in a terrestrial laboratory, but one day they will be part of a new and entirely different solar system.

  4. Claverhouse Silver badge

    Star Dust

    ...dust grains that were formed around five to seven billion years ago - before the Solar System had even formed.

    “This is one of the most exciting studies I’ve worked on,” said Philipp Heck

    I got over it after the first billion years.

    1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      Re: Star Dust

      The first billion years, they were the worst. The second billion years, they were the worst, too. After that I went into a bit of a decline...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Star Dust

        After 14 billion years since the big bang we finally have life evolve. Unfortunately that life is full of fucking idiots intent on killing life and the planet it evolved on.

        If I were a Deity watching over this, I'd be shaking my metaphorical head in dispair whilst humming 'Always look on the bright side of life'

  5. Andy The Hat Silver badge

    Age is relative

    I had a quick look at myself and, given one or two that may not be there naturally or at all, I found elements -

    There's antimony, arsenic, aluminum, selenium,

    And hydrogen and oxygen and nitrogen and rhenium,

    And nickel, neodymium, neptunium, germanium,

    And iron, americium, ruthenium, uranium,

    Europium, zirconium, lutetium, vanadium,

    And lanthanum and osmium and astatine and radium,

    And gold, protactinium and indium and gallium,

    And iodine and thorium and thulium and thallium ...

    And (nearly) all were formed from the pre-solar system ... The scientists' rock may be old, but I'm just as old!

    1. OssianScotland

      Re: Age is relative

      I wish I could upvote you more than once for that....

      ... have a vBeer instead.

      (and almost a downvote since I'll have that damn song - although I really like G&S, it is too addictive - running through my mind all night!)

      (mind you, it could be worse, it could be the Chicken Song)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Ok technically

      The hydrogen atoms date from shortly after the Big Bang, and all heavier atoms were formed in stars that predated our Sun or via a supernova (for atoms heavier than iron)

      But this is news because it is something they can find a (relatively) specific age of.

    3. JohnG11

      Re: Age is relative

      You missed so many ...

      "There's yttrium, ytterbium, actinium, rubidium,

      And boron, gadolinium, niobium, iridium,

      And strontium and silicon and silver and samarium,

      And bismuth, bromine, lithium, beryllium, and barium.

      There's holmium and helium and hafnium and erbium,

      And phosphorus and francium and fluorine and terbium,

      And manganese and mercury, molybdenum, magnesium,

      Dysprosium and scandium and cerium and cesium.

      And lead, praseodymium, and platinum, plutonium,

      Palladium, promethium, potassium, polonium,

      And tantalum, technetium, titanium, tellurium,

      And cadmium and calcium and chromium and curium.

      There's sulfur, californium, and fermium, berkelium,

      And also mendelevium, einsteinium, nobelium,

      And argon, krypton, neon, radon, xenon, zinc, and rhodium,

      And chlorine, carbon, cobalt, copper, tungsten, tin, and sodium."

      Thank you Tom Lehrer (and Gilbert and Sullivan).

  6. Tom 7 Silver badge

    Peanut Butter?

    Pre Sun Pat?

  7. Nightkiller

    This is real research.

    Only impoverished graduate students know the smell of rotten peanut butter.

    1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

      I thought that was it's default smell, you mean it can get worse?

      Icon - Getting me coat & getting away from that nasty stuff.

    2. JCitizen

      You beat me to it!!

      My Weed Science PHD got his doctorate eating only green peanuts, which he declared were the only single food source that had all of nature's nutrients. Jennika Greer's statement was spot on for a starving graduate student! Been there - done that.

  8. Weiss_von_Nichts


    All nice and good, but how on earth (and much more how in space) could neon keep inside a meteorite in a complete vacuum and still be there after crushing the damn rock, dissolving it in acid and exposing it to enough air to even smell it? Neon is supposed to be a noble gas, IIRC.

  9. BuckeyeB

    Sometimes I think some of these articles are complete bullshit. Well, not the articles themselves, but whoever is giving them the information. Let me just make some guesses that no one can prove or disprove and dress it up to make it sound plausible. I mean maybe it's not, but you come up with an equation that seems elegant, then you run it through the tests and determine that ..... well we just don't have enough mass in the universe. Hmm. My equation can't be wrong, so..... there must be mass out there we can't account for. Let's call it dark matter.

    1. old man

      And don't forget negative energy negative mass etc. There used to be something called phosigene ( how the hell do you spell that) was the way to explain how something burnt before oxygen was discovered. Made as little sense as negative matter .

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like