The Solar System could be up to two million years older than previously thought, reports a paper published online this week in Nature Geoscience. The revised older age comes from an analysis of a relict mineral contained within a meteorite ― called a mineral inclusion ― found in northwest Africa.
Such inclusions are among the oldest solid materials formed following the birth of the Sun, and dating of this material can provide one of the most precise estimates of the age of the formation of the Solar System. Audrey Bouvier and Meenakshi Wadhwa use a dating technique relying on lead isotopes to determine the age of this particular inclusion. They find that the inclusion formed 4,568.2 million years ago ― between 0.3 and 1.9 million years earlier than previous estimates.
This age makes the inclusion the oldest material from the Solar System that has been dated so far.