(Photo : NASA / JPL-Caltech / T.Pyle (SSC) / Mia Olsen)
By looking at some primitive meteorites, scientists were able to discover that our solar system isn't as unique as we had previously thought. They reached this conclusion when they realized early solar system material known as chrondules formed around the same time as calcium-aluminum-rich inclusions (CAIs).
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Solar systems form when a mass of hot gas cools into elements that then make up stars and planets. Some of the earliest materials that formed where CAIs and chrondules. Our solar system is 4.567-billion-years old and it was believed that chrondules appeared around two-million-years old after CAIs. Turns out this theory is false, and that chrondules came about around the same time as CAIs.
The team from the Centre for Star and Planet Formation analyzed the uranium and lead isotopes in primitive meteorites which contain some of our solar system's oldest materials and published their findings in Science.
"By using this process to date the formation of these two very different types of materials found in the same meteorite, we are not only able to alter the chronology of our solar system's historical development, we are able to paint a new picture of our solar system's development, which is very much like the picture that other researchers have observed in other planetary systems," says James Connelly of the Centre for Star and Planet Formation.
This means that there is a higher likelihood that Earth-like planets exist in outer space.
"In general, we have shown that we are not quite as unique as we once thought. Our solar system closely resembles other observable planetary systems within our galaxy. In this way, our results serve to corroborate other research results which indicate that earth-like planets are more widespread in the universe than previously believed," says Professor Martin Bizzarro, head of the Centre for Star and Planet Formation.
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