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Called Erg Chech 002, the forty kilogram meteorite found in the Algerian Sahara a few months ago has just entered the Guinness book, the world book of records. And for good reason: it is the oldest igneous rock in the solar system discovered to date.

“This volcanic-type stone is 4.565 billion years old. That is, less than 2.25 million years after the start of the formation of the solar system, ”explains Jean-Alix Barrat, teacher-researcher at the laboratory of marine environmental sciences (LEMAR) of UBO, which is part of of the worldwide group of scientists who tried to unlock the secrets of the rock. “The previous one was a million years younger. I doubt that we will be able to find any older in the years to come, as these discoveries of such ancient materials are so rare ”.

A rare rock

To date, scientists believe that the meteorite originated from a protoplanet – an embryo of a planet that preceded the appearance of those in our solar system – about a hundred kilometers in diameter.

It would have landed “thanks to the chance of the orbits” in southern Algeria “at least a hundred years ago”. With Erg Chech 002, “this is the first time that we have part of the crust” of these celestial bodies.

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