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Solid inner, inner core may be relic of Earth’s earliest days

Simulation suggests the center of the planet formed 3 billion years before the rest of its deepest layer

5:57pm, December 18, 2015

CORE INCEPTION  The iron in the innermost part of Earth’s inner core (red) is oriented at a completely different angle (blue lines) compared with the rest of the inner core (orange). New research suggests that the innermost inner core actually formed billions of years earlier than previously thought, shortly after the planet’s formation.

SAN FRANCISCO — Earth’s deepest realm may be billions of years older than previously thought. New simulations of the planet’s formation suggest that the innermost part of the inner core solidified shortly after Earth’s assembly, rather than roughly 3 billion years later alongside the rest of the inner core.

Though not all scientists are convinced, the new proposal offers insights into the early days of Earth and other rocky planets such as Mars, said George Helffrich, who presented the findings December 17 at the American Geophysical Union’s fall meeting.

“This early inner core might actually be one of the most ancient solid objects we have in the whole entire planet,” said Helffrich, a geophysicist at the Tokyo Institute of Technology.

Earth’s innards are divided into layers: a solid iron-rich inner core, a molten iron outer

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