Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

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

Subjects

Abstract

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.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

from$8.99

All prices are NET prices.

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.

References

  1. 1

    Amelin, Y., Krot, A. N., Hutcheon, I. D. & Ulyanov, A. A. Lead isotopic ages of chondrules and calcium–aluminium-rich inclusions. Science 297, 1679–1683 (2002).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. 2

    Nyquist, L. E., Kleine, T., Shih, C. Y. & Reese, Y. D. The distribution of short-lived radioisotopes in the early Solar System and the chronology of asteroid accretion, differentiation, and secondary mineralization. Geochim. Cosmichim. Acta 73, 5115–5136 (2009).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. 3

    Wadhwa, M., Srinivasan, G. & Carlson, R. W. in Meteorites and the Early Solar System II (eds Lauretta, D.S. & McSween, H.Y. Jr) 715–732 (Univ. Arizona Press, 2006).

    Google Scholar 

  4. 4

    Bouvier, A., Wadhwa, M. & Janney, P. E. 26Al–26Mg and 207Pb–206Pb systematics in an Allende inclusion. Meteorit. Planet. Sci. 41, A5299 (2008).

  5. 5

    Jacobsen, B. et al. 26Al–26Mg and 207Pb–206Pb systematics of Allende CAIs: Canonical solar initial 26Al/27Al ratio reinstated. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 272, 353–364 (2008).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. 6

    Amelin, Y. et al. Modern U–Pb chronometry of meteorites: Advancing to higher time resolution reveals new problems. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 73, 5212–5223 (2009).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. 7

    Wadhwa, M. et al. Ancient relative and absolute ages for a basaltic meteorite: Implications for timescales of planetesimal accretion and differentiation. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 73, 5189–5201 (2009).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. 8

    MacPherson, G. J. et al. Early solar nebula condensates with canonical, not supracanonical, initial 26Al/27Al ratios. Astrophys. J. Lett. 711, L117–L121 (2010).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. 9

    Bouvier, A., Blichert-Toft, J., Moynier, F., Vervoort, J. D. & Albarède, F. Pb–Pb dating constraints on the accretion and cooling history of chondrites. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 71, 1583–1604 (2007).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. 10

    Young, E. D. et al. Supra-canonical 26Al/27Al and the residence time of CAIs in the solar protoplanetary disk. Science 308, 223–227 (2005).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. 11

    Thrane, K., Bizzarro, M. & Baker, J. A. Extremely brief formation interval for refractory inclusions and uniform distribution of 26Al in the early Solar System. Astrophys. J. Lett. 646, L159–L162 (2006).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. 12

    Amelin, Y., Janney, P. E., Chakrabarti, R., Wadhwa, M. & Jacobsen, S. B. Isotopic analysis of small Pb samples using MC-ICPMS: The limits of precision and comparison to TIMS. Eos Trans. AGU (Fall Meeting Suppl.) 89, Abstr. V13A-2088 (2008).

  13. 13

    Scott, E. R. D., Keil, K. & Stoeffler, D. Shock metamorphism of carbonaceous chondrites. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 56, 4281–4293 (1992).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. 14

    Krot, A. N., Scott, E. R. D. & Zolensky, M. E. Alteration and dehydration in the parent asteroid of Allende. Meteorit. Planet. Sci. 30, 530–531 (1995).

    Google Scholar 

  15. 15

    Richter, S. et al. New average values for the n(238U)/n(235U) isotope ratios of natural uranium standards. Int. J. Mass Spectrom. (2010, in the press).

  16. 16

    Bizzarro, M., Baker, J. A. & Haack, H. Mg isotope evidence for contemporaneous formation of chondrules and refractory inclusions. Nature 431, 275–278 (2004).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. 17

    Wadhwa, M., Janney, P. E. & Krot, A. N. Al–Mg isotope systematics in Efremovka E60 CAI: Evidence of re-equilibration. Meteorit. Planet. Sci. 44, A5431 (2009).

    Google Scholar 

  18. 18

    Cherniak, D. J. Pb diffusion in Cr diopside, augite, and enstatite, and consideration of the dependence of cation diffusion in pyroxene on oxygen fugacity. Chem. Geol. 177, 381–397 (2001).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. 19

    LaTourrette, T. & Wasserburg, G. J. Mg diffusion in anorthite: Implications for the formation of early Solar System planetesimals. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 158, 91–108 (1998).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. 20

    Ito, M. & Ganguly, J. Mg diffusion in minerals in CAIs: New experimental data for melilites and implications for the Al–Mg chronometer and thermal history of CAIs. Lunar Planet. Sci. Conf. XL A1753 (2009).

  21. 21

    Brennecka, G. et al. 238U/235U variations in meteorites: Extant 247Cm and implications for Pb–Pb dating. Science 327, 449–451 (2010).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. 22

    Brennecka, G. et al. Toward reconciling early Solar System chronometers: The 238U/235U ratios of chondrites and D’Orbigny pyroxenes. Lunar Planet. Sci. Conf. XLI A2117 (2010).

  23. 23

    Spivak-Birndorf, L., Wadhwa, M. & Janney, P. E. 26Al–26Mg systematics in D’Orbigny and Sahara 99555 angrites: Implications for high-resolution chronology using extinct chronometers. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 73, 5202–5211 (2009).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. 24

    Quitté, G. et al. Correlated iron 60, nickel 62, and zirconium 96 in refractory inclusions and the origin of the Solar System. Astrophys. J. Lett. 655, 678–684 (2007).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. 25

    Tachibana, S., Huss, G. R., Kita, N. T., Shimoda, G. & Morishita, Y. 60Fe in chondrites: Debris from a nearby supernova in the early Solar System? Astrophys. J. Lett. 639, L87–L90 (2006).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. 26

    Connelly, J., Amelin, Y., Krot, A. N. & Bizzarro, M. Chronology of the Solar System’s oldest solids. Astrophys. J. Lett. 675, L121–L124 (2008).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. 27

    Krot, A. N., Yurimoto, H., Hutcheon, I. D., Glenn, J. & MacPherson, G. J. Chronology of the early Solar System from chondrule-bearing calcium–aluminium-rich inclusions. Nature 434, 998–1001 (2005).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. 28

    Villeneuve, J., Chaussidon, M. & Libourel, G. Homogeneous distribution of 26Al in the Solar System from the Mg isotopic composition of chondrules. Science 325, 985–988 (2009).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. 29

    Weidenschilling, S. J., Marzari, F. & Hood, L. L. The origin of chondrules at jovian resonances. Science 279, 681–684 (1998).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. 30

    Tatsumoto, M., Knight, R. J. & Allègre, C. J. Time differences in the formation of meteorites as determined from the ratio of lead-207 to lead-206. Science 180, 1279–1283 (1973).

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

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.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Contributions

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.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Audrey Bouvier.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Supplementary information

Supplementary Information

Supplementary Information (PDF 1061 kb)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

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). https://doi.org/10.1038/ngeo941

Download citation

Further reading

Search

Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing