January 2, 2023 | David F. Coppedge

Wrong Again: Oort Cloud Fail

Dramatic clash between observation and theory
leaves astronomers dumbfounded



 — Observations must always take precedence over theory —

Scientists are really good at one thing: rewriting the textbooks. At one level, this is to be expected as science discovers new facts. Sometimes, though, the clash between textbook orthodoxy and observations calls into question what scientists thought they knew.

‘Unexpected’ space traveler defies theories about origin of solar system (Phys.org, 12 Dec 2022).

How many years have planetary scientists taught that rocks are close to the sun, and ices are farther out from the sun? Decades? A century or more? Remember the “frost line” that supposedly explained why distant gas giants were composed of volatiles (water and ice) and inner planets were composed of rocks? It made intuitive sense; there should be a radius beyond which it is colder. The “Oort Cloud” of comets was supposed to be all ice at vast distances.

One rocky meteorite ruined their day.

Researchers from Western have shown that a fireball that originated at the edge of the solar system was likely made of rock, not ice, challenging long-held beliefs about how the solar system was formed.

Just at the edge of our solar system and halfway to the nearest stars is a collection of icy objects sailing through space, known as the Oort Cloud. Passing stars sometimes nudge these icy travelers towards the sun, and we see them as comets with long tails. Scientists have yet to observe any objects in the Oort Cloud directly, but everything detected so far coming from its direction has been made of ice.

That was until a big fireball left fragments in Alberta, Canada last year.

Theoretically, the very basis of understanding our solar system’s beginnings is built upon the foundation that only icy objects exist in these outer reaches and certainly, nothing made of rock.

This changed last year when an international team of scientists, stargazers, and professional and amateur astronomers led by Western meteor physicists captured images and videos of a rocky meteoroid that flew through the skies over central Alberta as a dazzling fireball. The researchers have since concluded all signs point to the object’s origin being smack dab in the middle of the Oort Cloud.

A short video clip in the article shows the calculated orbit of the rocky object. The caption reads, “The arrival of a rocky body from such large distances was unexpected: distant bodies should be made of ice.” The meteor presumably never read the rule book. It did its own thing.

When faced with falsification of theory, scientists can sound excited and brag about how the falsifying fact increases their “understanding” of things. The caption continues, “This unusual fireball increases our understanding of the outermost edge of the solar system.”

But they told students for years that they already had understanding. Do students get their money back?

“This discovery supports an entirely different model of the formation of the solar system, one which backs the idea that significant amounts of rocky material co-exist with icy objects within the Oort cloud,” said Denis Vida, a Western meteor physics postdoctoral researcher. “This result is not explained by the currently favored solar system formation models. It’s a complete game changer.”

That’s how they cheat. When they’re losing, they change the game. That way, they never have to apologize.

Expect it to take awhile before the textbooks and science teachers catch up to this latest revelation and teach the “entirely different model.” The paper in Nature (12 Dec 2022) about this object agrees that this fireball indicated “a result not explained by traditional Solar System formation models.”

But how will they get the rocks that far out in the cold? Quick, somebody invent a new theory. “Our result gives support to migration-based dynamical models of the formation of the Solar System, which predict that significant rocky material is implanted in the Oort cloud,” the Abstract says. Migration?

This recalls how planetary scientists had to deal with earlier falsifying evidence: hot Jupiters around extrasolar planets (14 Feb 2016, 31 March 2016; latest find on Space.com). Gas giants were not supposed to be found close to their parent stars. Astronomers had to came up with a new model that makes gas giants form far outside the frost line and then migrate inward. Now, apparently, they will need to concoct ways for rocky bodies to be flung far out into the imaginary Oort cloud.

Another trick of materialists to save face is to quickly sidestep and distract attention from their having been wrong. One favorite method is to talk about how the new observations help explain human origins.

“We want to explain how this rocky meteoroid ended up so far away because we want to understand our own origins. The better we understand the conditions in which the solar system was formed, the better we understand what was necessary to spark life,” said Vida.

Should we listen to self-proclaimed experts who have been this wrong?

Just report the facts, and leave off the origin myths. Leave origins to those who understand the engineering requirements for life.



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  • One of my favorite instances of bluster from the uninformed (or dishonest) is when I posted something at The Question Evolution Project about this very topic. One tinhorn said “the voyager satellite PASSED THROUGH THE OORT CLOUD…physical actual documented science…” V’ger would not reach it for another 300 years, if it existed. Amazing how creationists have to correct believers in deep time and fish-to-fool evolution about their own belief systems.

  • John15 says:

    Did anyone notice the level of expertise that was required to settle on New Horizon’s second target (which blew everyone away!). One would think in a theory that depended on short-term comets being resupplied from the Kuiper Belt, the choice of targets would have been easier. We regularly fly probes through Asteroid belt without hiccups (except when measuring systems are confused. Go SAE!). Arrokoth was an opportunistic fly-by that we’ll probably never see repeated. Great report, once again, faithful friend.

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