How Old is the Solar System?

It is difficult to estimate the age of the Solar System.

What is the Solar System?

The Solar System comprises of the Sun and the objects that move around it which are held together by the gravitational force. Objects which orbit the sun include the 8 large planets, dwarf planets, the moon and other bodies of the Solar System. The other bodies that make up the Solar System include 472 natural satellites, 707,664 minor planets, and 3,406 comets. The solar system is located in the Local Interstellar Cloud.

How Old is the Solar System?

The Solar System is 4.568 billion years old. Scientists measure its age by using radioactive decay of isotopes found in meteorites and rocks. The Potassium and Uranium isotopes were formed at the same time as the solar system. The inference is that the age of the rocks and meteorites, is the age of the solar system. However, due to the facts that most rocks have been destroyed over time, the age of the Solar System is currently measured using meteorites. This is done by using radioactive dating techniques to determine how much of the isotopes in the meteorites have decayed. As such, the oldest meteorites give the age of the Solar System as 4.568 billion years. This age could be refined in the future because scientists have stated that it has been difficult to find rocks that were not altered by the Earth’s tectonic plates.

The Origin of the Solar System

The Solar System is believed to have formed due to the disturbance of a cloud of gas and dust by the supernova star. The disturbance caused an explosion which resulted in waves squeezing the dust and cloud. Then the cloud began to collapse while the gravitational force held the gas and dust together thus forming the Solar Nebula. Afterwards the cloud started spinning so fast that the center grew denser and hotter than its surrounding. Furthermore, a disk of dust and gas formed around the cloud. The center of the disk was very hot while its edges were cool. The disk grew thinner and thinner, with particles sticking together and forming clumps. These clumps formed the planets and moon that we know today. With time, the cloud became very hot and became a star which was named the Sun and the Solar system was formed.

The Future of the Solar System

Since the Solar System relies on the Sun for its energy, its future is linked to the sun too. Being a middle-aged star, the Sun is expected to keep burning for the next 5 billion years. However, at the end of this period, the sun will have used up all the hydrogen located at its center. The core will shrink under the gravitational force and resulting into collision of the helium atoms and oxygen. The collison will lead to more energy than was previously generated by the sun. The sun will then swell to a hundred times its current size. It will swallow Mercury and Venus and change its color from yellow to red. As for the earth, if it will not be swallowed by the sun, the high temperatures from the sun will blow the atmosphere away. Furthermore, all the oceans will boil and the earth will no longer be able to sustain any life in it.


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