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Radiometric dating is used to estimate the age of rocks and other objects based on the fixed decay rate of radioactive isotopes.
Learn about half-life and how it is used in different dating methods, such as uranium-lead dating and radiocarbon dating, in this video lesson. As we age, our hair turns gray, our skin wrinkles and our gait slows.
Radiometric dating, or radioactive dating as it is sometimes called, is a method used to date rocks and other objects based on the known decay rate of radioactive isotopes.
Different methods of radiometric dating can be used to estimate the age of a variety of natural and even man-made materials.
However, rocks and other objects in nature do not give off such obvious clues about how long they have been around.
So, we rely on radiometric dating to calculate their ages.
A new analysis of lunar rocks brought to Earth by Apollo astronauts suggests that the moon formed 4.51 billion years ago — just 60 million years after the solar system itself took shape.
Further evidence comes from the complete agreement between radiometric dates and other dating methods such as counting tree rings or glacier ice core layers.
[How the Moon Formed: 5 Wild Lunar Theories] "We are really sure that this age is very, very robust," lead author Melanie Barboni, a researcher in UCLA's Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences Department, told
Astronomers think the moon was born after a Mars-size body (or a series of such big objects) slammed into the early Earth.
That's because the rocks collected by Apollo astronauts and studied by scientists tend to be breccias — jumbles of different rock types mashed together by meteorite strikes (which are very common on the lunar surface, because the moon has almost no atmosphere to burn up falling space rocks).
"You don't have pristine, old rock preserved on the moon," Barboni said.