The stellar nursery that produced our solar system separated out from the rest of the galaxy some 30 million years before the sun was born, new research shows.
"Considering that it took less than 100 million years for the terrestrial planets to form, this incubation time seems astonishingly long," chemist and planetary scientist Martin Bizzarro, with the University of Copenhagen Natural History Museum in Denmark, writes in an article in this week's Science.
The study reconciles a long-standing discrepancy between the abundances of two radioactive isotopes -- iodine-129 and hafnium-182 -- at the time of the sun's birth some 4.567 billion years ago. The samples came from meteorites and were previously analyzed in laboratories.
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"We did not measure these nuclei in meteorites, but explained the data already available," lead researcher Maria Lugaro with Monash University in Australia, wrote in an email to Discovery News.
"The new research "delivers the first successful interpretation of meteoritic data that were presented beforehand but were difficult to explain," she added.