What’s a few hundred million years when you’re talking about the formation of the 4.5- billion-year-old solar system? Quite a lot if you’re an astrophysicist it seems.
Researchers from Israel, the U.S. and Japan are now saying that the nuclear clock used to measure the age of the solar system has been “ticking faster” than previously thought and that the Earth formed much more quickly than originally believed.
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“We determined that half life of the geological clock ticks faster,” Michael Paul, a professor of nuclear physics at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, told The Media Line.
The formation of the Earth
Paul and his team from the University of Notre Dame and the Argonne National Laboratory and two Japanese universities, reexamined Samarium 146, one of the main isotopes used to chart the evolution of the solar system. They found that its half life was only 68 million years and not the 103 million as previously assumed.
“The age of the solar system has not changed. But the time it took to form the Earth as it is at present with its mantel and crust and rocks and so on according to this new measurement is shorter than it was estimated before,” Paul said.
The findings, published in the journal Science, have yet to be accepted by the astrophysicist community. Nor do the findings alter the age of the universe, which is generally believed to have been formed about 4.6 billion years ago.