Meteorites, which are remnants of solar system formation, provide a direct glimpse into the dynamics and evolution of a young stellar object (YSO), namely our Sun. Much of our knowledge about the astrophysical context of the birth of the Sun, the chronology of planetary growth from micrometer-sized dust to terrestrial planets, and the activity of the young Sun comes from the study of extinct radionuclides such as 26Al (=0.717 Myr). Here we review how the signatures of extinct radionuclides (short-lived isotopes that were present when the solar system formed and that have now decayed below detection level) in planetary materials influence the current paradigm of solar system formation. Particular attention is given to tying meteorite measurements to remote astronomical observations of YSOs and modeling efforts. Some extinct radionuclides were inherited from the long-term chemical evolution of the Galaxy, others were injected into the solar system by a nearby supernova, and some were produced by particle irradiation from the T-Tauri Sun. The chronology inferred from extinct radionuclides reveals that dust agglomeration to form centimeter-sized particles in the inner part of the disk was very rapid (<50 kyr), planetesimal formation started early and spanned several million years, planetary embryos (possibly like Mars) were formed in a few million years, and terrestrial planets (like Earth) completed their growths several tens of million years after the birth of the Sun.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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