Scientists often talk about the cosmic timescale. For humans, knots are often seen as a long time. On a cosmic timescale, 10 years or even a hundred years is the blink of an eye. Cosmic timescales are measured in millions or billions of years. Scientists from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory recently announced that research indicates that our solar system formed in as little as 200,000 years.
On a cosmic scale, this is very fast. Researchers came to this conclusion after looking at isotopes of the element molybdenum found in meteorites. Matter formed the sun and the rest of the solar system and came from the collapse of a large cloud of gas and dust about 4.5 billion years ago. By observing other solar systems that formed similarly to our own solar system, astronomers were as well Able to appreciate It would likely take between one and two million years for the cloud to collapse and a star to ignite.
Prior to this study, the time frame for the formation of the Solar System was not clearly known. New research shows that the collapse of gas clouds that led to the formation of the solar system happened very quickly, in less than 200,000 years. To put this timeframe in better perspective, the scientists on the project say that if we were to scale this up to compare a human pregnancy, the pregnancy would last about 12 hours instead of nine months.
The oldest dated solids in the solar system are calcium and aluminum-rich inclusions (CAIs). The samples provide a first-hand record of the formation of our solar system. CAIs are 2 μm inclusions and meteorites that formed at high temperatures over 1,300 degrees Kelvin, most likely near the young sun.
The CAIs were then transported outdoors to an area where carbonaceous chondrites formed. The majority of CAIs formed 4,567 billion years ago, over 40,000 to 200,000 years ago. By measuring molybdenum isotopes and trace element compositions of several CAIs from carbonic chondrite meteorites, the team found that the distinct isotopic compositions of CAIs cover the full range of substances that formed in the protoplanetary disk rather than a small chip. This means that the implications must have formed during the time period of the cloud’s collapse.