Exoplanets Are Young, Too
Observations cause a major upset in planet formation theory, and the time needed for evolution.
Two days ago, we reported the evidence for youth in Saturn’s rings and moons (19 Dec 2018). A new report from Science Magazine extends this youth out to the planets around other stars. Daniel Clery, in his article “Hints of young planets puzzle theorists,” gives observational evidence that the long-standing “core accretion” model for planet formation is wrong. At least 20 exoplanets have dust disks that can’t be as old as expected. Keep in mind that planetary scientists still make ‘reckless drafts on the bank of time’ (2 July 2007) as do the geologists, tossing around millions and billions of years like politicians with OPM (other people’s money). In this quote, Clery sounds like a politician realizing there’s not enough revenue for his favorite program.
HL Tau, a mere stripling of a star no more than 1 million years old, was swaddled in a surprise. Four years ago, the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile revealed gaps in a bright disk of dust around HL Tau—apparently swept clean by unseen planets that had formed millions of years earlier than astronomers thought possible. But now, an ALMA survey of 20 disks around nearby young stars suggests the precocious planets around HL Tau are no anomalies—a result that will keep theorists busy for years.
There aren’t enough cloths to swaddle the baby. How big a surprise is this? Clery quotes an astronomer:
“It’s spectacular,” says Joshua Winn of Princeton University. “We will never think about disks in the same way.”
The findings appear to falsify the favored core accretion theory. “The process is expected to be slow, taking millions of years to play out.” These exoplanets are too young for that. Many of the cleared lanes are farther out than Neptune is from the sun, Clery says, adding to the problem, because there should be a paucity of dust at those distances.
The evidence takes away support for core accretion theory and hands it to the “heretical” theory called disk instability. How fast is that process?
An alternative model relying on unstable ripples or clumps in the disk that collapse under their own gravity can make planets faster, especially large ones in distant orbits. But Marco Tazzari, of the Institute of Astronomy at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, notes that the survey found few spiral arms—signs of disk instabilities—in the disks. “There are many structures we cannot account for,” he says.
The astronomers only see the lanes cleared of dust, not any planets themselves. Their proposed solution? Futureware. “To untangle these issues, astronomers need additional observations,” Clery writes. At least they are looking now, instead of just modeling. Clery’s article illustrates the latest revision of Murphy’s Law: “Anything that can go wrong has already gone wrong.” Scientists are just finding it with the ALMA Telescope. It also illustrates H. L. Mencken’s conjecture, “For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.”
Both theories, therefore, don’t seem to work. And what about the rocky, inner planets? Disk instability is not as helpful in those cases.
Ashes to Ashes and Dust to Dust
At New Scientist, Leah Crane demoted our planet by saying, “Earth may be made up of rocks blasted by gusts of solar wind.” Don’t you feel better now? Our response should be, “If you say it MAY be, it also MAY NOT be. How do you know?” She sings the old Bob Dylan ballad, “The answer, my friend, is…’
Earth may have started as dust in the wind. Unlike in many other stellar systems we’ve seen, the area close to our sun is empty. That may be because early in the solar system’s formation, the solar wind blew rocks near the sun into the area where Mercury, Venus, and Earth eventually formed.
That’s odd; we know a lot about the solar wind, and our sun isn’t blowing chunks these days. For cover, Crane runs to Christopher Spalding at Yale University, who has a “simulation.” If you start with the right size pebbles, he says, and if the sun was more active in the past, and if Jupiter contributed its gravity – then rocks 100 meters and smaller “may have acted as building blocks for these rocky worlds.” They “may have,” he says, but he’s cheating. Getting dust to grow into pebbles by accretion is one of the big hurdles in planet formation theories (28 June 2018). At least the ALMA team had observations, not just simulations.
Readers, please realize that secular astronomers believed the core accretion model for decades. And before that, textbooks routinely taught the planetesimal hypothesis. And centuries before that Laplace presented the nebular hypothesis, for which he famously told Napoleon it had no need of God. Well, now we have telescopes that fail to confirm it, and the recent “alternative hypothesis” of disk instability isn’t looking too good, either.
Let’s put the findings together in a logical way. If exoplanets form quickly, then Saturn formed quickly. If Saturn’s rings and moons are young, then Saturn is young. If Saturn is young, the solar system is young. If the earth is young, then Charlie & Charlie* were wrong; life must have been created. Tell me, theistic evolutionists, why you feel so compelled to abandon Genesis and desire the company of people who keep turning out to be wrong? Don’t you believe Psalm 119:99? “I have more understanding than all my teachers, for Your testimonies are my meditation.”
Recommended resources: Michael Denton is neither a Christian nor a creationist, but his recent books The Wonder of Water (see the video), and Children of Light (hear his podcast) make a compelling case that our universe, our star, and our planet were intended for beings like us. Isaiah said as much long ago. “For thus says the Lord, Who created the heavens, Who is God, Who formed the earth and made it, Who has established it, Who did not create it in vain [i.e., by random forces or the Stuff Happens Law], Who formed it to be inhabited: “I am the Lord, and there is no other” (Isaiah 45:18).
For your amusement, here are some Murphy’s Laws that seem appropriate to the story:
- If there is a possibility of several things going wrong, the one that will cause the most damage will be the one to go wrong.
- If you perceive that there are four possible ways in which something can go wrong, and circumvent these, then a fifth way, unprepared for, will promptly develop.
- If anything simply cannot go wrong, it will anyway.
- Whether things can go wrong or not, it depends on your frame of reference. Regardless of your frame of reference, things will go wrong anyway.
- Two wrongs don’t make a right. It usually takes three or four.
- If your action has a 50% possibility of being correct, you will be wrong 75% of the time.
- Anything that can’t possibly in a million years go wrong, will go wrong.
- The probability that something can go wrong is directly proportional to the square of the amount of inconvenience it can cause you.
- The only time something’s right is when everyone agrees its wrong.