February 23, 2023 | David F. Coppedge

Nobody Can Explain Early Galaxies

Mature galaxies right near the beginning –
this repeated theme has secular theorists at wit’s end


In the beginning, nothing banged, say the materialists, and became everything. If that idea has bothered you, vindication is coming that you were right to be bothered. Look at the news today, and focus on the exclamations of surprise and worry.

The heavens declare the glory of God. James Webb Telescope’s First Deep Field image, July 2022.

Huge young galaxies seen by JWST may upend our models of the universe (New Scientist, 22 Feb 2023).

Galaxies spotted by the James Webb Space Telescope seem far too massive to have formed so early on in the universe’s history, which could be a problem for our ideas of galaxy formation.

Reporters like Leah Crane and Alex Wilkins like to leave some wiggle room by saying the discovery “may” upend our models or “could” be a problem, but consider the difference between what the cosmologists expected and what they saw through the JWST’s instruments. See for yourself if there is any room left for may and could.

The Lumpiness Problem in cosmology has bothered astronomers for decades, and with it the challenge of “early maturity” of stars and galaxies that dates back two decades at least (18 Nov 2015, 11 Mar 2014, 9 Mar 2011, etc.). What did the JWST find this time? Some quotes:

  • Many galaxies in the early universe seem to be far more massive than expected.
  • “I would have guessed that galaxies like this would not exist this early in the universe,” says Pieter van Dokkum at Yale University in Connecticut, part of the research team.
  • “If all of this holds up with further investigation, then we are looking at having to rethink about some of the early history of galaxy formation,” says Andrew Pontzen at University College London.
  • If these findings do hold up, it may be a problem for our understanding of the universe more generally, not just galaxy formation.

The cosmologists’ dilemma bears a striking similarity to the evolutionary biologists’ dilemma: the sudden appearance of complex life in multiple “explosions” in the fossil record.

The James Webb Space Telescope discovers enormous distant galaxies that should not exist (Space.com, 22 Feb 2023). They should not exist. They do.

Nobody expected them. They were not supposed to be there. And now, nobody can explain how they had formed.

Galaxies nearly as massive as the Milky Way and full of mature red stars seem to be dispersed in deep field images obtained by the James Webb Space Telescope (Webb or JWST)  during its early observation campaign, and they are giving astronomers a headache. 

Nobody expected them. Nobody can explain them. Let us call as a witness Dr Paul Nobody. He can explain them. He says the big bang is a myth, because God created the universe. Astronomers don’t like his explanation, though. They say it gives them a headache. ‘Who are you?’ they scold; ‘You’re Nobody!’ ‘You are right,’ replies Dr Nobody. ‘I’m just a shadow in your academic halls. But Nobody knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men.’

Galaxies and a fine-tuned universe: from a bang or a mind? Graphic by David Coppedge; all rights reserved.

James Webb Telescope spots galaxies from the dawn of time that are so massive they ‘shouldn’t exist’ (Live Science, 22 Feb 2023). One looks in vain for plausible explanations of these galaxies. They are too early; they are too massive; they are too compact. Explosions don’t work that way. Who is surprised? Not Dr Nobody; he can explain it. The surprised ones belong to the Consensus Club, where bananas are a staple of their diet.

“It’s bananas,” co-author Erica Nelson, an assistant professor of astrophysics at the University of Colorado Boulder and one of the researchers who made the discovery, said in a statement. “You just don’t expect the early universe to be able to organize itself that quickly. These galaxies should not have had time to form.”

Reporter Ben Turner describes what astronomers predicted: early galaxies slowly taking shape a few hundred million years after the presumed big bang, then reaching adolescence 1-2 billion years after the bang. These mature galaxies are estimated to be only 500 million years after the bang. How serious a problem is this for the consensus?

The researchers say the galaxies are so massive, they are “in tension with 99 percent of the models for cosmology.” This means that either the models need to be altered, or scientific understanding of galaxy formation needs a fundamental rethink.

Webb telescope spots super old, massive galaxies that shouldn’t exist (University of Colorado at Boulder, 22 Feb 2023). This is the press release that caused the tumult. Erica Nelson, the banana lady, co-authored the paper in Nature (see link below). She was the first to see some red dots in JWST images that seemed “too bright to be real” which further investigation showed to be large, compact, mature galaxies. While the UC Boulder team is still measuring the dots, “If even one of these galaxies is real, it will push against the limits of our understanding of cosmology,” Nelson said.

But materialists have a tactic for saving face when facing the press. When the press gives you hard questions and evidence that contradicts your expectations, sound excited!

The fast pace of discovery with James Webb is a lot like those early days of Hubble, Nelson said. At the time, many scientists believed that galaxies didn’t begin forming until billions of years after the Big Bang. But researchers soon discovered that the early universe was much more complex and exciting than they could have imagined.

“Even though we learned our lesson already from Hubble, we still didn’t expect James Webb to see such mature galaxies existing so far back in time,” Nelson said. “I’m so excited.”

Discovery of massive early galaxies defies prior understanding of the universe (Penn State, 22 Feb 2023). Penn State astronomers also co-authored the Nature paper. Like the others, they say that theories are “upended” by the new evidence, that “nobody expected” them, and that the galaxies “call into question” theories. Dr Joel Leja at Penn, while allowing for alternative interpretations of the bright dots, seems a little more straightforward about the scale of the problem.

“This is our first glimpse back this far, so it’s important that we keep an open mind about what we are seeing,” Leja said. “While the data indicates they are likely galaxies, I think there is a real possibility that a few of these objects turn out to be obscured supermassive black holes. Regardless, the amount of mass we discovered means that the known mass in stars at this period of our universe is up to 100 times greater than we had previously thought. Even if we cut the sample in half, this is still an astounding change.”

Update 25 Mar 2023: Two additional articles have called attention to this cosmic upset.

Webb spots surprisingly massive galaxies in early universe (Phys.org, 26 Feb 2023). Reporter Juliette Collen points out that these massive galaxies “go off a cliff” compared to what theorists thought was possible:

It took our home galaxy the entire life of the universe for all its stars to assemble.

For this young galaxy to achieve the same growth in just 700 million years, it would have had to grow around 20 times faster than the Milky Way, said Labbe, a researcher at Australia’s Swinburne University of Technology.

For there to be such massive galaxies so soon after the Big Bang goes against the current cosmological model which represents science’s best understanding of how the universe works.

“According to theory, galaxies grow slowly from very small beginnings at early times,” Labbe said, adding that such galaxies were expected to be between 10 to 100 times smaller.

‘We just discovered the impossible’: how giant baby galaxies are shaking up our understanding of the early Universe (The Conversation, 22 Feb 2023). Ivo Labbe was there when the first images were viewed. He is befuddled, dumbfounded, and flabbergasted by what they saw: “Impossibly early, impossibly massive galaxies.”

To produce these galaxies so quickly, you almost need all the gas in the universe to turn into stars at near 100% efficiency. And that is very hard, which is the scientific term for impossible. This discovery could transform our understanding of how the earliest galaxies in the universe formed.

…which is another way of saying that their “understanding” just went down the drain. He compares the finding to the “one black swan” that philosophers talk about. One black swan can falsify the proposition that “all swans are white.”

The Research

The paper is an unedited manuscript at this time, with only the Abstract published.
> Labbe et al., A population of red candidate massive galaxies ~600 Myr after the Big Bang. Nature, 22 Feb 2023.

An Encore

The early universe was crammed with stars 10,000 times the size of our sun, new study suggests (Live Science, 22 Feb 2023). Astrophysicist Paul Sutter likes to popularize modern astronomy and cosmology with his pithy writing, making imaginary models seem fascinating. In this piece, he discusses why the first stars had to be really, really big, according to models of what happened in the Dark Ages—the “cosmic dark ages” before the first stars began to shine.

The new work features all the usual cosmological ingredients: dark matter to help grow galaxies, the evolution and clumping of neutral gas, and radiation that can cool and sometimes reheat the gas. But their work includes something that others have lacked: cold fronts – fast-moving streams of chilled matter – that slam into already formed structures.

And so (according to theory), with the proper mix of hydrogen, helium, dark matter, gas, spark discharge, luck, and bat wing under a full moon, Nothing made supermassive stars burst into existence and shrink rapidly, lighting fusion to cook up heavy elements, slamming into cold fronts that reheat. Nobody knows whether that model works, either.

Will the big bang survive? Nobody knows. Ask Dr Nobody; he knows. He has seen falsified theories rise like zombies and terrify the townspeople again and again. Nobody knows that the walking dead can survive their lumps and become even stronger. Nobody knows that materialists will be clever at theory rescue devices. Nobody knows whether academia will maintain their belief in spite of the evidence. Nobody knows the strength of their belief in the Stuff Happens Law, which applies to cosmology as well as to biology.

Nobody knows whether compromising creationists who use the big bang and deep time to support “a beginning” will continue to build their interpretations on the shifting sands of materialist science. Nobody knows whether they will learn a lesson this time to trust the Word of God instead of the imaginations of men. The reporters tell us that “Nobody expected” all this, and that “Nobody can explain” it. That part they got right.

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  • God_philsopher says:

    Nothing in Science Makes Sense Except in the Light of Creation.

  • J.Y. Jones says:

    Great article using Dr. Nobody to explain the inexplicable and the totally
    unexpected! Creation of all things in top condition is par for the
    course for our Creator, no evolution needed. Good insight, David! I
    believe (but of course can’t prove) that like Adam, all galaxies were
    created perfect. Man’s sin started the deterioration of the entire
    Cosmos, with possibly all galaxies at that point beginning to eat
    themselves through something going wrong–black holes gobbling up their
    created matter at their centers. This could be wrong, of course, but I
    think it’s as good a guess as most cosmologists can make! But no
    worries, the Bible tells us about the aging of the Cosmos and its
    ultimate destruction and re-creation (see 2 Peter 3:7-10 and Psalm
    102:25-26 for destruction, Revelation 21:1-8 for re-creation).

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