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The age of the Solar System redefined by the oldest Pb–Pb age of a meteoritic inclusion



The age of the Solar System can be defined as the time of formation of the first solid grains in the nebular disc surrounding the proto-Sun. This age is estimated by dating calcium–aluminium-rich inclusions in meteorites. These inclusions are considered as the earliest formed solids in the solar nebula. Their formation marks the beginning for several long- and short-lived radiogenic clocks that are used to precisely define the timescales of Solar System events, such as the formation and evolution of planetary bodies1,2,3. Here we present the 207Pb–206Pb isotope systematics in a calcium–aluminium-rich inclusion from the Northwest Africa 2364 CV3-group chondritic meteorite, which indicate that the inclusion formed 4,568.2 million years ago. This age is between 0.3 (refs 4, 5) and 1.9 (refs 1, 6) million years older than previous estimates and is the oldest age obtained for any Solar System object so far. We also determined the 26Al–26Mg model age of this inclusion, and find that it is identical to its absolute Pb–Pb age, implying that the short-lived radionuclide 26Al was homogeneously distributed in the nebular disc surrounding the proto-Sun. From the consistently old ages in the studied inclusion, we conclude that the proto-Sun and the nebular disc formed earlier than previously thought.

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Figure 1: 207Pb/206Pb versus 204Pb/206Pb in bulk and mineral fractions (residues and leachates with 206Pb/204Pb>950) of the type-B CAI 2364-B1.
Figure 2: Al–Mg isotope systematics in bulk and mineral fractions of the type-B CAI 2364-B1.
Figure 3: Comparison of absolute internal Pb–Pb ages of CAIs with the Al–Mg, Hf–W and Mn–Cr model ages for CAIs anchored on the isotope systematics of the D’Orbigny angrite.

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We are grateful to T. Bunch for allocating the meteorite specimen from the collection at Northern Arizona University, to Y. Amelin for providing access to the Pb isotope data that was acquired in collaboration with M.W. at ASU (and illustrated in Supplementary Fig. S3) and to R. Hines and P. Janney for their assistance in the Isotope Cosmochemistry and Geochronology Laboratory at ASU. This work was funded by grants from the NASA Cosmochemistry Program and NASA Origins of Solar Systems Program to M.W.

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A.B. and M.W. planned the project. A.B. carried out the analytical work during her post-doctoral appointment. Both authors discussed the results and contributed to the writing of this manuscript.

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Correspondence to Audrey Bouvier.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Bouvier, A., Wadhwa, M. The age of the Solar System redefined by the oldest Pb–Pb age of a meteoritic inclusion. Nature Geosci 3, 637–641 (2010).

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