Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Planets Found in Potentially Habitable Setup?

Planets Found in Potentially Habitable Setup, SPACE.com, Ker Than, 17 May 2006 ...

[Graphic: "HD 69830/HR 3259," Sol Company.]

Three medium-sized planets of roughly the same mass as Neptune have been discovered around a nearby Sun-like star, scientists announced today. [See also ABC/Discovery, National Geographic, New Scientist, USA Today, etc.] The planets were discovered around HD 69830, a star slightly less massive than the Sun located 41 light-years away in the constellation Puppis (the Stern), using the ultra-precise HARPS spectrograph on the European Southern Observatory's 3.6-meter La Silla telescope in Chile. The finding, detailed in the May 18 issue of the journal Nature, marks a first for astronomers because previously discovered multi-planet solar systems besides our own contain at least one giant, Jupiter-sized planet. "For the first time, we have discovered a planetary system composed of several Neptune-mass planets," said study team member Christophe Lovis of the Geneva Observatory in Switzerland. The setup is similar to our own solar system in many ways: The outermost planets is located just within the star's habitable zone, where temperatures are moderate enough for liquid water to form, and the system also contains an asteroid belt. The newly discovered planets have masses of about 10, 12 and 18 times that of Earth and they zip around the star in rapid orbits of about 9, 32 and 197 days, respectively ... [It is absurd (if not dishonest) to claim that a "planetary system composed of several Neptune-mass planets" which have "masses of about 10, 12 and 18 times that of Earth" and "zip around the star in rapid orbits of about 9, 32 and 197 days, respectively" is "similar to our own solar system" and is a "Potentially habitable set-up"!]

... In the early years of planet hunting, the wobble technique was sensitive enough to spot only large, massive planets because they produce more significant stellar wobbles. However, the technique has since been refined to the point where lower-mass planets can now be detected. [Well, astronomers have not yet found any truly Earth-size exoplanets, as yet. That could be because either: 1) they are there but not yet detected; 2) they are rare; or 3) they don't exist.]

I have scanned and placed on my website an amazing chapter out of a slim book I bought at a remainder stall, Professor Stuart Ross Taylor, "The Solar System: An Environment For Life?," in Walter, M., ed., et al., "To Mars and Beyond: Search for the Origins of Life," Art Exhibitions Australia: Sydney & National Museum of Australia: Canberra, Australia, 2001, pp.57-67. It reads like something out of The Privileged Planet, not by an Emeritus Professor of Planetary Science at the Australian National University! I intend to quote from that chapter as appropriate. However, I will quote Prof. Taylor's conclusion first, as it is appropriate to this post:

"These new discoveries reinforce the message from our own system. Nothing resembling our Solar System has been discovered. The conditions that existed to make our set of planets are not easily reproduced elsewhere. Indeed, no two planets in the Solar System are alike. Likewise, the 80-odd moons are also odd characters that defy efforts to put them into pigeonholes. So it should have come as no surprise that when nature tried elsewhere to build planets the end result was different. We are left with the conclusion that attempts to find some general formulae for recreating the detail of the Solar System are likely to be on the wrong track. Local accidents have predominated over general theories, just as some overlooked detail of the landscape may ruin the course of a battle that was planned according to the best principles of military strategy." (Taylor, S.R., "The Solar System: An Environment For Life?," in Walter, M., ed., et al., "To Mars and Beyond: Search for the Origins of Life," Art Exhibitions Australia: Sydney & National Museum of Australia: Canberra, Australia, 2001, p.67)

As will be seen by reading the online chapter, or when I post further quotes from it, it is increasingly likely that our Solar System, the Earth and life on it, are unique in the entire Universe!

Prof. Taylor seems to agree with that (or at least the unlikeihood of disproving it), because he said in 1999:

"When the remote chances of developing a habitable planet are added to the chances of developing both high intelligence and a technically advanced civilization, the odds of finding 'little green men' elsewhere in the universe decline to zero." (Taylor, S.R., in "Other stars, other worlds, other Life?," Holoscience, Views, 15 December 1999)

and discoveries since then have given him no reason to change his mind.]

Stephen E. Jones, BSc (Biol).
`Evolution Quotes Book'

3 comments:

Edward T. Babinski said...
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Edward T. Babinski said...

"As far as distant stars and galaxies are concerned, there is no evidence either in science or Scripture, that any of them have planets."

-Henry Morris, The Biblical Basis for Modern Science (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1984) p. 244

~~~~~~~~

"...the theory of stellar structure appears to be founded on a good physical basis and...stellar evolution is intimately related to stellar structure...

"If creationists wish to scrap stellar evolution completely, then it is incumbent on us to rework stellar structure and/or physics in a convincing fashion...

"The standard observational tool used in studying stellar structure and evolution is the Hertzsprung-Russell (H-R) diagram... It consists of a plot of stellar luminosity increasing upward and temperature increasing to the left...Most stars are found on a roughly diagonal band called the main sequence (MS)...

"This agreement is quite impressive and the physical assumptions that go into it are so well founded it is doubtful that many creationists would have much to argue with in main sequence (MS) stellar structure. However, what is generally called post MS evolution is not far removed from the brief outline of stellar structure given above.

"The most massive stars may pass through successive steps of fusing helium nuclei with increasingly more massive nuclei up to iron...Note that these transitions have not actually been observed. However, they are based on physics principles and will naturally occur...

"The upshot is that the most massive stars have MS lifetimes of only a few hundred thousand years (of course, still much longer than young-age creationists would allow), while the lowest mass stars have MS lifetimes approaching 100 billion years...

"And evolutionary assumption concludes that the stars in a star cluster should form from a single cloud so that the members represent...a homogenous group. Different clusters should have different ages, and though they technically have different compositions, even large differences in composition do not seriously affect the overall appearance of an H-R diagram...

"The agreement of the theory [of stellar evolution] is quite impressive...

"[The expected evolutionary] trend between globular and open clusters is observed...

"Evidence [exists] that the formation of planetary nebulae and the evolution of white dwarfs are related...These two ages have a very good correlation...

"A similar relationship holds for neutron stars and supernova remnants. As with planetary nebulae, the expansion velocity and observed size of the remnant can be used to estimate the time since the explosion...Where a pulsar can be identified in a supernova remnant, the ages of the remnant and the pulsar are well correlated.

"Very brief discussions of stellar structure and evolution have been presented. Though it would seem that creationists would not have much with which to quarrel in the former, most would largely dismiss the latter. However, the two are intimately related, and one cannot be rejected without seriously calling into question the other. We are appealing to readers to give much attention to the study of stellar evolution..."

-DANNY R. FAULKNER and DON B. DE YOUNG [young-universe creationists], "Toward a Creationist Astronomy," Creation Research Society Quarterly, Vol. 28, Dec. 1991, pp. 87-91

~~~~~~~~~~~~

"Perhaps the most important remaining question [in astronomy] for [young- universe] creationists is the origin of the turnoff points in the H-R diagrams of different clusters. The stars are real physical objects and presumably follow physical laws; we would rather not take the easy way out by saying simply that `God made them that way.' But if creationists take the position of rejecting stellar evolution, they should provide a feasible alternative."

-PAUL STEIDL [young-universe creationist], The Earth, the Stars, and the Bible (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1979), p. 153 -- as quoted by Howard J. Van Till in The Fourth Day: What the Bible and the Heavens Are Telling Us about the Creation (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1986), p. 239

~~~~~~~~~

What fraction of stars in our Galaxy might play host to planets that can support multi-cellular life? Lineweaver and others have calculated the probable extent of hospitable space for complex life in the Galaxy, called the “Galactic habitable zone.” The criteria include distance from deadly supernovae, enough heavy elements to form terrestrial planets, and enough time for life to evolve. Based on these criteria, the Galactic habitable zone is an annular region between 7 to 9 kiloparsecs from the Galactic center and contains about 10% of the Milky Way stars with ages between 4 to 8 billion years old. [The Milky Way, like most of the 100+ billion other galaxies in the cosmos, contains over a billion stars.]

-Science, Vol. 303, Jan. 2, 2004 www.sciencemag.org

Stephen E. Jones said...

Stephen E. Jones said...

Ed

>Edward T. Babinski said...
"As far as distant stars and galaxies are concerned, there is no evidence either in science or Scripture, that any of them have planets."

-Henry Morris, The Biblical Basis for Modern Science (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1984) p. 244

[...]

As you well know, having debated me on various C/E lists over the years, I am not (and unlike you, never have been) a YEC.

However, to refresh your memory, CED's title block says: "I am an Australian Christian *old*-Earth creationist/IDist biologist who accepts common ancestry." (my emphasis).

Stephen E. Jones