How old is the Earth? Is it 4.5 billion years old? Or did scientists get it wrong?
Earth is the third planet from the sun and the only known place where life exists. The age of the Earth has always been a controversial topic. Some say the Earth is billions of years old, while others believe it’s much younger.
Scientists have discovered that the Earth is approximately 4.54 billion years old. We look at this figure in this article and how the earth has survived this long to tell you all you need to know when it comes to the age of our shared home.
How Old Is Earth?
The Earth was created about 4.54 billion years ago. It took nearly four billion years for our planet to cool down and solidify into what we see today. Earth is therefore estimated to be 4.54 billion years old, give or take out around 50 million years.
Scientists have searched and researched the Earth searching for rocks to radiometrically date. In parts of Canada, they discovered rocks that were estimated to be 4.03 billion years old, and in Australia, they found minerals that dated back about 4.3 billion years.
As a result of the rock cycle, rocks are recycled all the time and researchers have therefore searched other places in the universe for data on the Earth’s age.
It is believed bodies in the solar system could have formed at the same time and this has caused scientists to analyze and complete research on moon rocks collected from the famous moon landing and meteorites that have fallen and crashed into Earth.
Both of these dated between 4.4 and 4.5 billion years, which supports the estimate of the Earth being around 4.54 billion years old.
It’s estimated that the first living organisms appeared between 3.8 and 4.1 billion years ago. These were single-celled bacteria that lived off sunlight. They used carbon dioxide as their energy source.
As time passed by these simple organisms evolved into more complex ones like algae and plants. Then they became animals. Over millions of years, many different species of animals evolved.
Eventually, the human race emerged. Although it certainly doesn’t seem like it at times Humans are considered to be one of the most intelligent creatures on the planet.
What Happened Before The Formation Of The Earth?
Before the formation of the Earth, the universe was filled with gas and dust. Scientists call this material “space matter.” Space matter consisted of hydrogen, helium, oxygen, nitrogen, carbon, neon, magnesium, silicon, iron, etc.
There were also other elements such as beryllium, aluminum, calcium, sodium, potassium, copper, zinc, sulfur, chlorine, and argon.
Then, one day (well, days didn’t technically exist back then) everything changed. An explosion happened in the center of the galaxy — a supernova. The shockwave from the explosion traveled across space.
When it reached a certain massive cloud of dust, it caused a huge chain reaction. The star exploded, and the shockwave caused everything it reached to spin.
The dust cloud of space matter spun quicker and quicker, gaining an unfathomable central density. Gravitational force built up in this crucible to such a degree that hydrogen protons started to fuse together.
This veritable proton part created helium, as well as an immense amount of raw energy, and, over time, formed our Sun, the center of our solar system.
But hey… where’s Earth? Well, although the formation of the Sun depleted the spinning dust cloud of 99% of its matter, there was still that 1% left over, still spinning around. Discrete pieces of this 1% collided, forming clusters of matter.
Eventually, these clusters became so large that they developed their own gravitational pull, forcing the constituent matter into larger, singular objects. These objects are what we know as the planets, and one of them was Earth!
Are Earth And Mars Different?
Scientists believe that the Earth and Mars are very similar. Both of them have liquid water under their crusts. They also have magnetic fields protecting them from harmful radiation, and are relatively close together.
The big difference is that Earth has complex life, whereas Mars does not. The reason being, it’s incredibly arid and awfully chilly — we’re talking -220 F.
What’s more, the atmosphere on Mars doesn’t do a good job of keeping ultraviolet radiation at bay, meaning anything on the surface would be destroyed
How Did The Universe Expand?
At first, the universe was extremely dense. All of its energy was concentrated in one small area. Then, as the universe expanded, the density decreased.
Eventually, the universe became so dilute that all of its energy spread evenly throughout the cosmos.
The universe is expanding because of something called dark energy. Dark energy makes the universe expand faster and faster.
Dark energy is invisible. Scientists do not know what causes it. But they think that it may be some kind of force. It seems to make up most of the mass of the universe.
Before the big bang, there was nothing. No time, no space, no matter, just pure potential due to an abundance of some form of unstable energy.
Eventually, this energy cultivated the fundamental elements of our existence, and the Big Bang brought everything we now know into existence.
When Did Life Begin On Earth?
It is believed that life began on Earth at least 3.5 billion years ago. There are several theories regarding how life began on Earth.
One theory says that life began when rocks heated up inside volcanoes. Water vapor came out of the rocks. Then, organic molecules formed. These molecules became part of the atmosphere.
Another theory says that life began in the ocean. Organic molecules were produced by volcanic activity. Then they floated to the surface of the ocean.
Still, another theory says that life began deep underground. During volcanic eruptions, hot magma flowed down through cracks in the ground. As it cooled off, minerals formed. These minerals created organic molecules.
How Old Is The Solar System?
To try and work out the age of Earth, scientists have looked at the material that formed part of the solar system. This material was a cloud of dust and gas that circled the sun.
Gravitational interactions coalesced the dust and gas into the planets and moons at similar times. By studying this, scientists then could learn more about the history of the Earth.
The moon, which is the nearest body to the earth, doesn’t experience the resurfacing we do on Earth. This means rocks from lunar history sit on the moon’s surface even today.
As we have mentioned, samples returned from the Apollo and Luna revealed the rocks were between 4.4 billion and 4.5 billion years old, and this helped them put together the age of the Earth.
How the moon was formed, however, is still debated today. One popular theory suggests an object the size of Mars crashed into Earth and the fragments coalesced into the moon, yet other theories suggest the moon formed before Earth was in existence.
We used the very same methods used to identify the age of Earth to ascertain the age of the solar system it plays a very small role in. We examined rocks from Earth, Mars, the Moon, and meteorites, and concluded that the solar system is a whopping 4.571 billion years old.
Scientists have found evidence for the age of our planet. They believe that Earth has been around for about 4.6 billion years. This is based on studies of meteorites that fell to Earth and more.
We hope this article has cleared up any questions you might have about the topic. The Earth is still being researched today and new information will continue to come forward.
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