9 New Discoveries of 2020
These are an array of scientific discoveries that slipped under the radar. As 2020 comes to a close, we look back at Nine significant developments that you might have missed.
The Oldest material found on Earth is more ancient than our solar system
Billions of years before our sun winked into existence, a dying star flung dust out into space. Now a bit of that stardust, trapped in a meteorite that collided with Earth, was dated as the oldest material yet found on our planet. The dust coalesced with other rocks inside what would become the Murchison meteorite, which lit up skies over Australia in September 1969 as it careened to the surface of our planet.
A fresh analysis of these ancient rocks found grains of stardust that are between 4.6 billion years and roughly 7 billion years old. Scientists estimate that these early dust pieces lurk only in about five percent of meteorites, but that hasn’t discouraged them from continuing to hunt for these clues to our galaxy’s history.
This scanning electron microscope image shows one of the grains dated in this study. At its longest, the grain is roughly eight micrometers across—smaller than the width of a human hair.