extinction Intelligent Design

A comet, not an asteroid, killed the dinosaurs, say astrophysicists

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They trace it back to the Oort cloud:

The fact that a huge piece of extraterrestrial rock struck what is now the Yucatan Peninsula 66 million years ago is not controversial. And, year by year, scientists working in different disciplines keep amassing more evidence that this unprecedented event caused our planet’s fifth mass extinction. The incredible heat of impact debris returning to the atmosphere, global wildfires and a dust cloud that blocked the sun for years all played a role. In the end, almost three quarters of known species went extinct during the cataclysm…

Published in Scientific Reports today, the new study by astronomers Amir Siraj and Avi Loeb of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, propose that a series of break-ups and chance events sent the huge chunk of space rock our way.

Riley Black, “Astrophysicists Chart Source of Asteroid That Killed Dinosaurs” at Smithsonian Magazine

Can’t seem to find the paper but anyway, at ArsTechnica we learn:

Siraj and co-author Avi Loeb concluded from their analysis that Jupiter’s gravitational field was strong enough to bump many such long-period comets from the Oort cloud off course, bringing them very close to the Sun. Such comets are known as “sun grazers”; about 20 percent of long-period comets become sun grazers, per the authors. And the Sun’s powerful tidal force in turn can break them into fragments.

A Hubble Space Telescope image of the comet Shoemaker-Levy 9, taken on May 17, 1994. Enlarge / A Hubble Space Telescope image of the comet Shoemaker-Levy 9, taken on May 17, 1994.

Siraj likened the effect to a pinball machine. “When you have these sun grazers, it’s not so much the melting that goes on, which is a pretty small fraction relative to the total mass, but the comet is so close to the Sun that the part that’s closer to the Sun feels a stronger gravitational pull than the part that is farther from the Sun, causing a tidal force,” he said. “You get what’s called a tidal disruption event, so these large comets that come really close to the Sun break up into smaller comets. And basically, on their way out, there’s a statistical chance that these smaller comets hit the Earth.” Siraj and Loeb’s calculations showed that there was an increase in the likelihood of long-period comets impacting Earth by a factor of 10, and that new rate jibes with the age of the Chicxulub impactor, making this a viable theory of its origin.

Jennifer Ouellette, “Astronomers: A comet fragment, not an asteroid, killed off the dinosaurs” at Ars Technica

Their comet theory is not without its critics but it keeps life interesting.

Worried? Riley Black at the Smithsonian advises,

If all of this has you a little nervous looking at the night sky, though, don’t worry. The new model predicts that a comet or asteroid the size of the one that struck at the end of the Cretaceous is only going to strike Earth every 250 to 730 million years or so. What happened 66 million years ago was a truly exceptional and rare event, underscored by the fact that it is the only mass extinction in the history of life on Earth to be caused by an impact rather than Earth-bound causes like intense volcanic activity.

Riley Black, “Astrophysicists Chart Source of Asteroid That Killed Dinosaurs” at Smithsonian Magazine

Yes, that Avi Loeb, of Oumuamua and Extraterrestrial: The First Sign of Intelligent Life Beyond Earth fame.

Here’s a simulation of what happened to the dinos:

5 Replies to “A comet, not an asteroid, killed the dinosaurs, say astrophysicists

  1. 1
    mahuna says:

    And so the hole in the ground in Central America and EXACTLY the right combination of minerals in what would have been the debris are a “coincidence”??
    There seem to be a lot of technical people who want to gain a reputation by simply adding details to an otherwise silly idea. We don’t NEED a “comet”. What’s left of the ASTEROID is still right there where it landed 30 million years ago or something. And debris in Texas matches a combination of asteroid bits and Central American bits.
    Won’t a comet have been COMPLETELY destroyed by a collision with Earth, exploding in the atmosphere? Are we to believe that the COINCIDENTALLY a large meteor ALSO hit Earth just around the same time as the comet.
    This sounds like another desperate attempt to get 7 minutes of fame. And the clock is ticking.

  2. 2

    I wonder if Kent Hovind has heard about this? 🙂

    https://www.creationism.org/english/CometsHovindTheory_en.htm
    Comets and the Great Flood of Noah
    Noah was told to go inside the Ark along with his wife, three sons and their three wives. All the animals had been told to go to him (he did not have to go out and collect them). The Lord shut the door. Then they waited. Seven long days later the Great Flood began. Noah tells us (Genesis 7 & 8) that all the volcanoes were erupting, it began raining, and that the waters were rising for 150 days. The crust and oceans were convulsing and the whole Earth was covered. It was a flood like none other in Earth history.

    What catalyzed the Great Flood? Rain did not produce it. Recall that it was only raining for 40 days and 40 nights. But the waters were rising for 150 days (Genesis 7:29). The volcanoes were erupting, but they do not appear to have been the cause either. Is it possible that Noah was on the opposite side of the Earth from a massive cometary bombardment?

    Clouds can be seeded to produce rain. Dry ice is one catalyst causing rain. Could a significant number of hard frozen comets streaming in from deep space: one, begin to collapse the pre-Flood cloud cover with ensuing torrential rains; and two, slam into the Earth with concussions that could set off volcanoes; and three, then catalyze the volcanoes (the fountains of the great deep, erupting steam) to release high-pressure deep waters up to the surface? Maybe Noah did not see the comets themselves. And of course, if true, the evidence would later melt and become part of the post-Flood world’s oceans. (We know that world ocean levels are about 300 feet (100m) higher than their pre-Flood levels.)

    I wonder what the composition of the ice balls were, if the Hovind Theory (Dr. Kent Hovind’s DVD Seminar #6) is correct. I wonder what was the angle and speed they hit the Earth, or rather – hit the upper atmosphere. Did they fragment? Were they more like comets, with dust and ice together?

    Meteorites have lots of iron and nickel. They come in full speed, they are heavy, become hot, and they hit hard (if they survive the atmosphere).

    Comets are different, as a giant icy snowball is not the same as a big rock flying through the air. They would probably be less cohesive, break up faster when heated, but transfer just as much energy to the atmosphere on the way in.

    And it is possible, in theory, that the same astral event that wholloped Mars one day also hit the Earth. Sometime sit down with a cup of coffee or tea and look at the detailed images of the surface of Mars. If you are looking objectively and honestly you will notice something interesting. Almost all the craters are on one side! Don’t believe the diehard evolutionists with their belief in “once every couple million years” a meteorite hit stuff. No, look at the evidence. Since Mars’ orbit is also about 24 hours long, with all the craters on one side, and not on the other side of the planet, the evidence suggests a bombardment that hit – all in less than one hour. If Mars got hit in that way, and the Earth was in the same astral neighborhood, couldn’t the Earth have gotten pummeled that way too? Maybe the Lord has left us evidence of the cometary bombardment of Earth, on the surface of Mars?

    How about this article from the Univ. of Iowa: http://smallcomets.physics.uiowa.edu/

  3. 3
    Pearlman says:

    Even if they are right about the type of object and the distance it and the Earth moved leading up to the impact, it is foolish to assert ‘a series of chance events’.
    To assume so is to assume the sequence of events in the book of Esther was by chance and that the origins of the species is all by chance.
    Even the laws / forces of nature are BY Design!
    Other than that tell of blissful ignorance, very interesting.
    Shared 🙂

  4. 4
    bornagain77 says:

    as to:

    “You get what’s called a tidal disruption event, so these large comets that come really close to the Sun break up into smaller comets. And basically, on their way out, there’s a statistical chance that these smaller comets hit the Earth.” Siraj and Loeb’s calculations showed that there was an increase in the likelihood of long-period comets impacting Earth by a factor of 10, and that new rate jibes with the age of the Chicxulub impactor, making this a viable theory of its origin.
    If all of this has you a little nervous looking at the night sky, though, don’t worry. The new model predicts that a comet or asteroid the size of the one that struck at the end of the Cretaceous is only going to strike Earth every 250 to 730 million years or so. What happened 66 million years ago was a truly exceptional and rare event, underscored by the fact that it is the only mass extinction in the history of life on Earth to be caused by an impact rather than Earth-bound causes like intense volcanic activity.

    The appeal to chance events to explain events in our solar system only goes so far for the atheistic naturalist.

    For instance, in the present article the authors say ‘hey don’t worry, the chance of another life obliterating comet hitting hitting the earth is a “truly exceptional and rare event”

    What the authors didn’t touch on is the fact that the ‘chance’ of the solar system being configured in such a way so as to allow the earth to stay in its, (extremely narrow), life permitting orbit around the sun for billions of years is negligible to non-existent.

    Calculating orbits in a solar systems is, (because of the many different planets interacting with each other), very difficult to do.

    As wikipedia notes, “A general analytical solution (a mathematical expression to predict the positions and motions at any future time) exists for the two-body problem; (yet) when more than two bodies are considered, (then) analytic solutions exist only for special cases.”

    Perturbation (astronomy)
    The complex motions of gravitational perturbations can be broken down. The hypothetical motion that the body follows under the gravitational effect of one other body only is typically a conic section, and can be readily described with the methods of geometry. This is called a two-body problem, or an unperturbed Keplerian orbit. The differences between that and the actual motion of the body are perturbations due to the additional gravitational effects of the remaining body or bodies. If there is only one other significant body then the perturbed motion is a three-body problem; if there are multiple other bodies it is an n-body problem. A general analytical solution (a mathematical expression to predict the positions and motions at any future time) exists for the two-body problem; when more than two bodies are considered analytic solutions exist only for special cases. Even the two-body problem becomes insoluble if one of the bodies is irregular in shape.[4]
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perturbation_(astronomy)#Introduction

    As you can see, the math for correcting perturbations in a stable solar system is very difficult to solve and, contrary to popular opinion, the problem of perturbations was not solved by Laplace,

    “the math was not “crumbs” for Newton, since Laplace had worked on foundations laid by some of the most brilliant mathematicians of the century (Euler, Lagrange, Clairaut), some of whom also failed to solve the very same problem Newton was working on, and one of these, Euler is regarded as the greatest mathematician of all time!
    “Laplace did not really solve the problem (of perturbations) in the end, but only for first degree approximations, but Haret showed that orbits are not absolutely stable using third degree approximations.”
    – per letters to nature

    In fact, the effect of various planets disturbing one another’s orbits is so great, and so hard to calculate, that Sir Isaac Newton himself is said to have held that God might have to step in from time to correct any disturbances and/or perturbations, of the solar system.

    And for Isaac Newton daring to suggest that God might have to step in from time to time in order to correct the orbits of the planets (so as to keep the solar system in a stable configuration), Leibniz, (and even Pierre-Simon Laplace himself of all people), chastised Newton with this remark, “To suppose anything of the kind is to exhibit very narrow ideas of the wisdom and power of God’.”

    “Leibniz, in his controversy with Newton on the discovery of infinitesimal calculus, sharply criticized the theory of Divine intervention as a corrective of the disturbances of the solar system. “To suppose anything of the kind”, he said, “is to exhibit very narrow ideas of the wisdom and power of God’.”
    – Pierre-Simon Laplace
    https://books.google.com/books?id=oLtHAAAAIAAJ&pg=PA73&lpg=PA73

    Science has advanced a bit since Newton, Liebnis and Laplace’s day, and I hold that Newton, Leibniz, (and even Laplace himself), would all be very pleased by what modern science has now revealed about ‘the wisdom and power of God’ in keeping our solar system in a stable configuration free from life obliterating perturbations:

    “You might also think that these disparate bodies are scattered across the solar system without rhyme or reason. But move any piece of the solar system today, or try to add anything more, and the whole construction would be thrown fatally out of kilter. So how exactly did this delicate architecture come to be?”
    R. Webb – Unknown solar system 1: How was the solar system built? – New Scientist – 2009

    As the following article states, “As an example, shifting your pencil from one side of your desk to the other today could change the gravitational forces on Jupiter enough to shift its position from one side of the Sun to the other a billion years from now. The unpredictability of the solar system over very long times is of course ironic since this was the prototypical system that inspired Laplacian determinism.”

    Is the Solar System Stable? By Scott Tremaine – 2011
    Excerpt: So what are the results? Most of the calculations agree that eight billion years from now, just before the Sun swallows the inner planets and incinerates the outer ones, all of the planets will still be in orbits very similar to their present ones. In this limited sense, the solar system is stable. However, a closer look at the orbit histories reveals that the story is more nuanced. After a few tens of millions of years, calculations using slightly different parameters (e.g., different planetary masses or initial positions within the small ranges allowed by current observations) or different numerical algorithms begin to diverge at an alarming rate. More precisely, the growth of small differences changes from linear to exponential:,,,
    As an example, shifting your pencil from one side of your desk to the other today could change the gravitational forces on Jupiter enough to shift its position from one side of the Sun to the other a billion years from now. The unpredictability of the solar system over very long times is of course ironic since this was the prototypical system that inspired Laplacian determinism.
    Fortunately, most of this unpredictability is in the orbital phases of the planets, not the shapes and sizes of their orbits, so the chaotic nature of the solar system does not normally lead to collisions between planets. However, the presence of chaos implies that we can only study the long-term fate of the solar system in a statistical sense, by launching in our computers an armada of solar systems with slightly different parameters at the present time—typically, each planet is shifted by a random amount of about a millimeter—and following their evolution. When this is done, it turns out that in about 1 percent of these systems, Mercury’s orbit becomes sufficiently eccentric so that it collides with Venus before the death of the Sun. Thus, the answer to the question of the stability of the solar system—more precisely, will all the planets survive until the death of the Sun—is neither “yes” nor “no” but “yes, with 99 percent probability.”
    https://www.ias.edu/about/publications/ias-letter/articles/2011-summer/solar-system-tremaine

    Thus, the appeal to chance events to explain events in our solar system only goes so far for the atheistic naturalist. It is simply impossible for chance events to explain why the earth itself should remain in its (very narrow) life permitting orbit for billions of years.

    As well, there is also a well researched statistical analysis of the many independent ‘life-enabling characteristics’ that gives strong mathematical indication that the earth is extremely unique in its ability to support complex life in this universe. The statistical analysis shows, from a naturalistic perspective, that a life permitting planet is extremely unlikely to ‘accidentally emerge’ in the universe. The statistical analysis, (which is actually a extreme refinement of Drake’s probability equation), is dealt with by astro-physicist Dr. Hugh Ross (1945-present) in his paper ‘Probability for Life on Earth’.

    A few of the items in Dr. Ross’s “life-enabling characteristics” list are; Planet location in a proper galaxy’s ‘habitable zone’; Parent star size; Surface gravity of planet; Rotation period of planet; Correct chemical composition of planet; Correct size for moon; Thickness of planets’ crust; Presence of magnetic field; Correct and stable axis tilt; Oxygen to nitrogen ratio in atmosphere; Proper water content of planet; Atmospheric electric discharge rate; Proper seismic activity of planet; Many complex cycles necessary for a stable temperature history of planet; Translucent atmosphere; Various complex, and inter-related, cycles for various elements etc.. etc..

    I could go a lot further in details for there are a total of 816 known parameters which have to be met for complex life to be possible on Earth, or on a planet like Earth. Individually, these limits are not that impressive but when we realize ALL these limits have to be met at the same time on the same planet and not one of the limits can be out of its life permitting range for any extended period of time, then the probability for a world which can host advanced life in this universe becomes very extraordinary. Here is the final summary of Dr. Hugh Ross’s ‘conservative’ estimate for the probability of finding another life-hosting world in this universe.

    Linked from Appendix C from Dr. Ross’s book, ‘Why the Universe Is the Way It Is’

    Probability Estimates for the Features Required by Various Life Forms:
    Excerpt:
    Requirements to sustain bacteria for 90 days or less:
    Probability for occurrence of all 501 parameters approx. 10-614
    dependency factors estimate approx. 10^-303
    longevity requirements estimate approx. 10^22
    Probability for occurrence of all 501 parameters approx. 10^-333
    Maximum possible number of life support bodies in observable universe approx. 10^22
    Thus, less than 1 chance in 10^311 exists that even one such life-support body would occur anywhere in the universe without invoking divine miracles.

    Requirements to sustain unicellar life for three billion year:
    Probability for occurrence of all 676 parameters approx. 10^-859
    dependency factors estimate approx. 10^-303
    longevity requirements estimate approx. 10^22
    Probability for occurrence of all 676 parameters approx. 10^-578
    Maximum possible number of life support bodies in observable universe approx. 10^22
    Thus, less than 1 chance in 10^556 exists that even one such life-support body would occur anywhere in the universe without invoking divine miracle

    Requirements to sustain intelligent physical life:
    Probability for occurrence of all 816 parameters approx. 10^-1333
    dependency factors estimate approx. 10^-324
    longevity requirements estimate approx. 10^45
    Probability for occurrence of all 816 parameters approx. 10^-1054
    Maximum possible number of life support bodies in observable universe approx. 10^22
    Thus, less than 1 chance in 10^1032 exists that even one such life-support body would occur anywhere in the universe without invoking divine miracle
    http://d4bge0zxg5qba.cloudfron.....3_ver2.pdf

    As Eric Metaxas commented after learning just how precarious our existence actually is in this universe, “our existence is an outrageous and astonishing miracle, one so startlingly and perhaps so disturbingly miraculous that it makes any miracle like the parting of the Red Sea pale in such insignificance that it almost becomes unworthy of our consideration, as though it were something done easily by a child, half-asleep. It is something to which the most truly human response is some combination of terror and wonder, of ancient awe, and childhood joy.” 

    “Reason and science compels us to see what previous generations could not: that our existence is an outrageous and astonishing miracle, one so startlingly and perhaps so disturbingly miraculous that it makes any miracle like the parting of the Red Sea pale in such insignificance that it almost becomes unworthy of our consideration, as though it were something done easily by a child, half-asleep. It is something to which the most truly human response is some combination of terror and wonder, of ancient awe, and childhood joy.” 
    Eric Metaxas – Miracles – pages 55-56

    Eric Metaxas – Does Science Argue for or against God? – (2015) video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UjGPHF5A6Po

    Quote and Verse:

    “Is he worthy to be called a man who attributes to chance, not to an intelligent cause, the constant motion of the heavens, the regular courses of the stars, the agreeable proportion and connection of all things, conducted with so much reason that our intellect itself is unable to estimate it rightly? When we see machines move artificially, as a sphere, a clock, or the like, do we doubt whether they are the productions of reason?
    – Cicero (45 BC)

    Isaiah 40:28
    Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.

  5. 5
    Fasteddious says:

    I’m with Mahuna on this; the whole article seems rather sketchy.
    “calculations showed that there was an increase in the likelihood of long-period comets impacting Earth by a factor of 10, and that new rate jibes with the age of the Chicxulub impactor, making this a viable theory of its origin”.
    How can a “rate”, whether new or old, jibe with the age of a single impact event in the past?
    Why does a comet have to break up by solar tidal forces in order to hit the Earth?
    There are several Earth-orbit crossing asteroids, and comets come by fairly often, so why do we need a new theory?
    Have they any evidence to show that this event was caused by a comet as opposed to the oft-reported asteroid?
    If it was a comet that broke up, wouldn’t the Earth get hit by several pieces at different places, much like the comet that hit Jupiter a while back?
    The Earth gets hit with comet residue all the time – it’s called meteor showers.

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