Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Is our Solar System young? (Part 2)

Alright, before we start, I ve decided to leave the geology of Mars for the last of this series. Instead, let us turn to the Jovian planets! As well as all the misshapen objects hurtling in between them.

Interesting Appetizer Questions

Position of Mars in the night sky across a period of 6 months
Image borrowed from hyperphysics

1. Mars, Jupiter and Saturn, the three planets beyond Earth visible to the naked eye, appear to loop back across the night sky. Shown here, Mars from the 21st of June 2003 to the  25th of March 2004. Can you guess why?

2. The sidereal day of the Jovian planets is very short-for Jupiter its about 9 hours 56 minutes, and for Saturn 10 hours 39 minutes.  Why is this so?

3. Jupiter and Saturn consist mainly of hydrogen and helium, while the ice giants Uranus and Neptune,  contain significantly more ammonia, methane and water ice. Why?

The Asteroid Belt

Image from Wikipedia
There's more than 100,000 asteroids floating between Mars and Jupiter. Astronomers are interested in asteroid families you see, its because sometimes when mommy asteroid and daddy asteroid love each other very much two asteroids will smash into each other and produce daughter asteroids. Maybe their child would even head off to Earth and give us cooties. What a joy!

 Anyway, according to those godless evilutionists the asteroid belt was part of the proto-planetary disk that was circling the Sun some 4.5 billion years ago. At first, they were busy forming planeteismals, but over the next few millions of years, gravitational perturbations from the Jovian planets disrupted them and caused them to smash against each other with velocities too high to cause fusion of any kind.  This was the same mechanism that probably caused the Late Heavy Bombardment of our Solar system. It explains why the combined mass of asteroids in the disk would probably only have 0.1% the mass of our Earth, many were deflected away from the belt. Of course there are problems with this theory, but it remains, by far the most plausible.

There's another very telling sign of the asteroid belt. There are conspicuous absences in  the distribution of main-belt asteroids known as Kirkwood gaps, named after Daniel Kirkwood, their discoverer. In the distant past, when the orbit of Jupiter was still unstable, it would pass closer than normal to the asteroid belt and throw some asteroids off orbit. How are these gaps even explained if our Solar system is so young?

So.........if the Sun and planets/stars were all created simultaneously on the fourth day of Creation Week, why did God create all the space debris too? There's just no reason to! Or does He intend to send one to our doorstep every now and then as an act of divine retribution? Or did He...well, forget to clean up?


Image courtesy of www.celestialmotherlode.net
The biggest and heaviest planet in the Solar System. Having more than 2.5 times the mass of all other planets combined (probably related to the amount of gloop it has gobbled up), in possession of more than 50 named moons, this gargantuan monster of a planet is, well, ugly as hell. The Great Red Spot, pictured as the giant bulge here, is basically a giant storm larger than the Earth, with wind speeds up to . Not only that, it, by far has the largest, most powerful magnetosphere, of all the planets. It stretches all the way to Saturn.  So much so that the solar wind is deflected well before it reaches any of Jupiter's moons. What makes this worse is that its closest moon, Io, is violently volcanic, thanks to tidal heating by Jupiter's intense gravitational field . It continues to spew out a steady stream of particles, which are subsequently picked up and ionized by Jupiter's magnetosphere at the rate of 1 tonne per second. Which makes chance of life on the Galilean moon Europa probably quite slim - the Van Allen radiation belt is lethal. Not to mention that Europa is freezing cold.

There is actually an argument that Jupiter was specially created to provide protection from meteors, by acting as a cosmic vacuum cleaner thanks to its large gravity field. Is this true? Well, not really. Unfortunately, Jupiter has a good chance of slinging a rogue comet towards the inner planets as well as devouring it like Shoemaker-Levy 9. Of course,  it ultimately begs the question: why was Jupiter created in the first place if comets and asteroids neednt be created? 

Oh, and the creationist argument that Io could not possibly be as old as the evilutionists claim? Debunked here

Another interesting tidbit : the Galilean moon Callisto. It has the most heavily cratered surface in the entire Solar System, evidence of its age. Methinks it is a captured protoplanet during the aforementioned Late Heavy Bombardment.


Ah, the prettiest of them all. The rings of Saturn, consisting of millions and millions of (mostly water ice) debris. There's probably 12 rings in all. A majesty of creation, wouldnt you think? Pictured below are Saturn's rings and moons close-up. The innermost rings:  A, B, C and D rings are what one would consider the main rings, densely packed with ice particle aggregates, with the D ring the thinnest and nearest to Saturn. The rest are dusty rings, which are much thinner.

Image courtesy of NASA
Funny enough, Saturn, being only slightly smaller than Jupiter, is considerably less dense. It also has a considerably weaker magnetosphere: slightly weaker than even Earth's one.

Of course, like any true creation research society, AiG and CMI both have articles claiming "Saturn's rings couldnt be as old as them evilutionists say, cuz' it would have been sucked into the planet / spread out too far to be visible millions of years ago!" This argument is so silly because they assume the evilutionist believes everything in the Solar System is 4.5 billion years old. Its almost as if they have a pretty cloud of debris circling their own heads too!

Conventional wisdom states that the rings were probably caused when a moon, about 100 million years ago, wandered too close to Saturn's Roche limit and started tearing up due to tidal stresses. I wont go too far into this, as the usual creationist spin has already been addressed here and here and of course, here.

Another argument was about Saturn's largest moon, Titan. The only moon to have an atmosphere (interesting fact-it rains liquid methane on Titan), one odd feature is the apparent lack of cratering on its surface. So CMI recently jumped the gun and proclaimed the lack of apparent craterism on Titan meant it was young. Of course, hilariously, the implications are that they agreed that the number of craters was a reliable estimate of how old a moon was! Now apply this same logic to another of  Saturn's moons, Tethys and the aforementioned Galilean moon Callisto. How old do you think they are now?

Titan. Image from Wikipedia
Now, lets look at Titan. There's strong evidence that it was once geologically active. Andrew Alden of geology.about has written an interesting piece about this. The presence of volcano-like domes and basalt-like flows is a strong indicator Titan once underwent geological recycling, just like Earth.

And of course, there's the remaining problem. We havent identified all craters on Titan yet. Its atmosphere is thick and heavy, seriously hindering visibility of its surface. Weathering processes caused by the methane rain will also weather down the smaller craters on Titan over the years.


Do you actually see how a phenomenon can be so easily mis-interpreted and twisted to support one's pre-conceived conclusions? That's why it's important to think critically about things you are not familiar with and listen to multiple, qualified experts before making a judgement about what's true and what's not. I will admit I am clouded by confirmation bias as well, so I try my best to listen to all sides of an argument.

The standard game for the YEC scientist is on a completely different playing field. If he submits a thesis to the scientific community, it doesn't matter if it is accepted or rejected, he wins. This is also known as the Xanatos Gambit. If his thesis is accepted, he gains repute and further bolsters the YEC layman's confidence in a young earth. If he's rejected, he can play this by further confirming YEC suspicions that the "religion of naturalism" has been integrated into the sciences and "academic discrimination" is rife.  Either way, he gets paid, so whats the harm?

Thats the importance of the peer review process-it helps siphon out bad, bad research and let the lay public know the truth. Scientist reputation alone isnt good enough-quality of his or her latest research must also be subject to rigorous scrutiny. What would you think happen if the works of biologist Peter Duesberg the AIDS denialist was accepted?

Up next: the ice giants and TNOs!

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