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Russian meteorite said as old as the solar system

Fragments of the Chelyabinsk meteorite on display at the Field Museum in Chicago. Credit: Karen Bean/Field Museum
Fragments of the Chelyabinsk meteorite on display at the Field Museum in Chicago. Credit: Karen Bean/Field Museum

CHELYABINSK, Russia, Oct. 7 (UPI) -- The meteorite that exploded over a Russian city in February was around 4.56 billion years old, as old as the Solar System itself, a scientist says.

Mikhail Marov of the Vernadsky Institute of Geochemistry and Analytical Chemistry said the age of the so-called Chelyabinsk meteor was determined by a technique called radiometric dating, observing the amount of radioactive isotopes and their decay byproducts in the meteorite.

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"The age of the Chelyabinsk meteorite -- 4.56 billion years -- almost coincides with the age of our solar system," Maroz said. "This means that we have encountered the so-called 'matter of creation.'"

"They [meteorites] hold the history of the processes that took place in the earliest period of the solar system's history."

The scientists said the meteor was typical in its makeup, being a chondrite -- a stony, non-metallic meteorite.

The original meteor, which exploded above city of Chelyabinsk on Feb. 15, is estimated to have weighed about 10,000 tons and measured about 56 feet in diameter.

When it exploded it injured about 1,500 people, most of them hurt by flying glass shattered by the blast's shock wave.

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