Solar system formation

At Quanta: Astronomers Reimagine the Making of the Planets

Spread the love

Observations of faraway planets have forced a near-total rewrite of the story of how our solar system came to be.

Start at the center, with the sun. Our middle-aged star may be more placid than most, but it is otherwise unremarkable. Its planets, however, are another story.

An array of images of protoplanetary disks with bright suns at the centers surrounded by rings, arcs, filaments and spirals.]
Newborn star systems imaged by the ALMA telescope, featuring protoplanetary disks with rings, arcs, filaments and spirals, are among the observations changing the theory of how planets are made. ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO)

First, Mercury: More charred innards than fully fledged planet, it probably lost its outer layers in a traumatic collision long ago. Next come Venus and Earth, twins in some respects, though oddly only one is fertile. Then there’s Mars, another wee world, one that, unlike Mercury, never lost layers; it just stopped growing. Following Mars, we have a wide ring of leftover rocks, and then things shift. Suddenly there is Jupiter, so big it’s practically a half-baked sun, containing the vast majority of the material left over from our star’s creation. Past that are three more enormous worlds — Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune — forged of gas and ice. The four gas giants have almost nothing in common with the four rocky planets, despite forming at roughly the same time, from the same stuff, around the same star. The solar system’s eight planets present a puzzle: Why these?

Now look out past the sun, way beyond. Most of the stars harbor planets of their own. Astronomers have spotted thousands of these distant star-and-planet systems. But strangely, they have so far found none that remotely resemble ours. So the puzzle has grown harder: Why these, and why those?

The swelling catalog of extrasolar planets, along with observations of distant, dusty planet nurseries and even new data from our own solar system, no longer matches classic theories about how planets are made. Planetary scientists, forced to abandon decades-old models, now realize there may not be a grand unified theory of world-making — no single story that explains every planet around every star, or even the wildly divergent orbs orbiting our sun. “The laws of physics are the same everywhere, but the process of building planets is sufficiently complicated that the system becomes chaotic,” said Alessandro Morbidelli, a leading figure in planetary formation and migration theories and an astronomer at the Côte d’Azur Observatory in Nice, France.

Still, the findings are animating new research. Amid the chaos of world-building, patterns have emerged, leading astronomers toward powerful new ideas. Teams of researchers are working out the rules of dust and pebble assembly and how planets move once they coalesce. Fierce debate rages over the timing of each step, and over which factors determine a budding planet’s destiny. At the nexus of these debates are some of the oldest questions humans have asked ourselves: How did we get here? Is there anywhere else like here?

Indeed, we come from a diffuse cloud of gas and dust. Four and a half billion years ago, probably nudged by a passing star or by the shock wave of a supernova, the cloud collapsed under its own gravity to form a new star. It’s how things went down afterward that we don’t really understand.

The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) is designed to detect light from cool, millimeter-size objects, such as dust grains around newborn stars. Starting in 2013, ALMA captured stunning images of neatly sculpted infant star systems, with putative planets embedded in the hazy disks around the new stars.

Astronomers previously imagined these disks as smooth halos that grew more diffuse as they extended outward, away from the star. But ALMA showed disks with deep, dark gaps, like the rings of Saturn; others with arcs and filaments; and some containing spirals, like miniature galaxies. “ALMA changed the field completely,” said David Nesvorny, an astronomer at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado.

Quanta

A key point made here is that after cataloging thousands of extrasolar planets, astronomers still have found “none that remotely resemble ours.” Earth’s status as The Privileged Planet continues to be upheld with ongoing research.

9 Replies to “At Quanta: Astronomers Reimagine the Making of the Planets

  1. 1
    Seversky says:

    With such a wide variety of planets being discovered and none exactly like Earth, it’s looking more like luck than judgement. If there was intelligent agency involved it’s looking more like the method was trial-and-error than intelligent design..

  2. 2
    PaV says:

    What does this do to the Drake equation?

  3. 3
    bornagain77 says:

    “What does this do to the Drake equation?”

    It completely blows the simplistic Drake equation out of the water.

    As the following article noted, “The expectation that the universe should be teeming with intelligent life is linked to models like the Drake equation, which suggest that even if the probability of intelligent life developing at a given site is small, the sheer multitude of possible sites should nonetheless yield a large number of potentially observable civilizations. We show that this conflict arises from the use of Drake-like equations, which implicitly assume certainty regarding highly uncertain parameters. We examine these parameters, incorporating models of chemical and genetic transitions on paths to the origin of life, and show that extant scientific knowledge corresponds to uncertainties that span multiple orders of magnitude. This makes a stark difference. When the model is recast to represent realistic distributions of uncertainty, we find a substantial probability of there being no other intelligent life in our observable universe, and thus that there should be little surprise when we fail to detect any signs of it.”

    Dissolving the Fermi Paradox – Anders Sandberg, Eric Drexler, Toby Ord – (Submitted on 6 Jun 2018)
    Abstract: The Fermi paradox is the conflict between an expectation of a high probability of intelligent life elsewhere in the universe and the apparently lifeless universe we in fact observe. The expectation that the universe should be teeming with intelligent life is linked to models like the Drake equation, which suggest that even if the probability of intelligent life developing at a given site is small, the sheer multitude of possible sites should nonetheless yield a large number of potentially observable civilizations. We show that this conflict arises from the use of Drake-like equations, which implicitly assume certainty regarding highly uncertain parameters. We examine these parameters, incorporating models of chemical and genetic transitions on paths to the origin of life, and show that extant scientific knowledge corresponds to uncertainties that span multiple orders of magnitude. This makes a stark difference. When the model is recast to represent realistic distributions of uncertainty, we find a substantial probability of there being no other intelligent life in our observable universe, and thus that there should be little surprise when we fail to detect any signs of it. This result dissolves the Fermi paradox, and in doing so removes any need to invoke speculative mechanisms by which civilizations would inevitably fail to have observable effects upon the universe.
    https://arxiv.org/abs/1806.02404

    Scientific Paper: It’s Likely We Are Alone In The Observable Universe – By HANK BERRIEN – June 26, 2018
    The authors conclude:
    When we take account of realistic uncertainty, replacing point estimates by probability distributions that reflect current scientific understanding, we find no reason to be highly confident that the galaxy (or observable universe) contains other civilizations, and thus no longer find our observations in conflict with our prior probabilities. We found qualitatively similar results through two different methods: using the authors’ assessments of current scientific knowledge bearing on key parameters, and using the divergent estimates of these parameters in the astrobiology literature as a proxy for current scientific uncertainty.
    When we update this prior in light of the Fermi observation, we find a substantial probability that we are alone in our galaxy, and perhaps even in our observable universe
    https://www.dailywire.com/news/32287/scientific-paper-its-likely-we-are-alone-hank-berrien

    In short, the Drake Equation is far too simplistic and optimistic in its assumptions for the probability of intelligent life elsewhere in this universe.

    Much to the disappointment of Star Trek fans, an avalanche of recent scientific evidence has found the probability of finding another planet with the ability to host advanced life in this universe is not nearly as likely as astronomer Frank Drake, and Carl Sagan, had originally predicted.

    Eric Metaxas – Does Science Argue for or against God? – (Sagan’s estimate based on the Drake equation shown to be far too simplistic and optimistic) – animated video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UjGPHF5A6Po ?

    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://www.reasons.org/files/c....._part3.pdf

    As to Seversky claiming “it’s looking more like luck than judgement. If there was intelligent agency involved it’s looking more like the method was trial-and-error than intelligent design..”

    Contrary to what Seversky wants to believe beforehand because of his atheistic predisposition, we now have fairly strong empirical evidence in hand that gives us strong indication that the earth was ‘teleologically’ intended from the creation of the universe and that the earth was not just the result of some ‘trial and error’ and/or ‘luck’ process as Seversky is trying to hold.

    Specifically, anomalies in the CMBR, (anomalies that were recently discovered by both the WMAP and Planck telescopes), ‘strangely’ line up with the earth and solar system,

    Here is an excellent clip from “The Principle” that explains these ‘anomalies’ in the CMBR, that ‘unexpectedly and surprisingly’ line up with the earth and solar system, in an easy to understand manner.

    Cosmic Microwave Background Proves Intelligent Design (disproves Copernican principle) (clip of “The Principle”) – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=htV8WTyo4rw

    Moreover, as the following paper highlights, we also find that Radio Astronomy now reveals a surprising rotational coincidence for Earth in relation to the quasar and radio galaxy distributions in the universe, “implying an apparent breakdown of the Copernican principle or its more generalization, cosmological principle, upon which the standard cosmological model is based upon”,,,

    A large anisotropy in the sky distribution of 3CRR quasars and other radio galaxies
    – Ashok K. Singal
    Astrophysics and Space Science volume 357, Article number: 152 (2015)
    Abstract
    We report the presence of large anisotropies in the sky distributions of powerful extended quasars as well as some other sub-classes of radio galaxies in the 3CRR survey, the most reliable and most intensively studied complete sample of strong steep-spectrum radio sources. The anisotropies lie about a plane passing through the equinoxes and the north celestial pole. Out of a total of 48 quasars in the sample, 33 of them lie in one half of the observed sky and the remaining 15 in the other half. The probability that in a random distribution of 3CRR quasars in the sky, statistical fluctuations could give rise to an asymmetry in observed numbers up to this level is only ?1 %. Also only about 1/4th of Fanaroff-Riley 1 (FR1) type of radio galaxies lie in the first half of the observed sky and the remainder in the second half. If we include all the observed asymmetries in the sky distributions of quasars and radio galaxies in the 3CRR sample, the probability of their occurrence by a chance combination reduces to ?2×10?5. Two pertinent but disturbing questions that could be raised here are—firstly why should there be such large anisotropies present in the sky distribution of some of the strongest and most distant discrete sources, implying inhomogeneities in the universe at very large scales (covering a fraction of the universe)? Secondly why should such anisotropies lie about a great circle decided purely by the orientation of earth’s rotation axis and/or the axis of its revolution around the sun? It seems yet more curious when we consider the other anisotropies, e.g., an alignment of the four normals to the quadrupole and octopole planes in the CMBR with the cosmological dipole and the equinoxes. Then there is the other recently reported large dipole anisotropy in the NVSS radio source distribution differing in magnitude from the CMBR dipole by a factor of four, and therefore not explained as due to the peculiar motion of the Solar system, yet aligned with the CMBR dipole which itself lies close to the line joining the equinoxes. Are these alignments a mere coincidence or do they imply that these axes have a preferential placement in the larger scheme of things, implying an apparent breakdown of the Copernican principle or its more generalization, cosmological principle, upon which the standard cosmological model is based upon?
    https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10509-015-2388-2

    And it is these large scale structures of the universe, combined on top of the CMBR anomalies, (via supplying us with proper x, y, and z coordinates), which overturn the Copernican principle and support the antiquated, and quaint, ‘medieval’ Theistic belief that the earth should be considered ‘central’ in the universe.

    As the following article, (with a illustration) explains,

    “Of course to have an exact position, (or what we would call an ‘exact center’ in the universe), we would need an X axis, a Y axis, and a Z axis, since that will give us three dimensions in Euclidean space. The CMB dipole and quadrupole gives us the X axis and Y axis but not a Z axis. Hence, the X and Y axis of the CMB provide a direction, but only an approximate position. That is why we have continually said that the CMB puts Earth “at or near the center of the universe.”
    For the Z-axis we depend on other information, such as quasars and galaxy alignment that the CMB cannot provide. For example, it has been discovered that the anisotropies of extended quasars and radio galaxies are aligned with the Earth’s equator and the North celestial pole (NCP)4.,,, Ashok K. Singal describes his shocking discovery in those terms:
    “What is intriguing even further is why such anisotropies should lie about a great circle decided purely by the orientation of earth’s rotation axis and/or the axis of its revolution around the sun? It looks as if these axes have a preferential placement in the larger scheme of things, implying an apparent breakdown of the Copernican principle or its more generalization, cosmological principle, upon which all modern cosmological theories are based upon.”
    – Ashok K. Singal4 “Is there a violation of the Copernican principle in radio sky,” Ashok K. Singal, Astronomy and Astrophysics Division, Navrangpura, Ahmedabad, India, May 17, 2103,..
    Signal states: “We can rule out at a 99.995% confidence level the hypothesis that these asymmetries are merely due to statistical fluctuations.”
    – illustration
    https://i.postimg.cc/L8G3CbXN/DOUBLE-AXIS.png
    – article
    http://www.robertsungenis.com/.....20Wars.pdf

    Thus, directly contrary to what atheists, and others, have erroneously presupposed with the fallacious Copernican principle, the observational evidence that we now have in hand from cosmology, (and even from our best scientific theories of General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics), now reveals teleology, i.e. a goal directed purpose, a plan, that specifically included the earth from the beginning of the universe. The earth and the solar system, from what our best science can now tell us, is not the result of some random quantum fluctuation at the beginning of the universe as atheists have erroneously presupposed within their (ad hoc) ‘inflation’ model(s).

    Genesis 1:1
    In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

    Isaiah 45:18-19
    For thus says the Lord, who created the heavens, who is God, who formed the earth and made it, who established it, who did not create it in vain, who formed it to be inhabited: “I am the Lord, and there is no other. I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth; I did not say to the seed of Jacob, ‘seek me in vain’; I, the Lord speak righteousness, I declare things that are right.”

  4. 4
    bornagain77 says:

    Supplemental notes: ,,, the Copernican Principle and/or the Principle of Mediocrity has now been overturned by both General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics, our two most powerful theories in science: (as well as by several other lines of scientific evidence)
    March 2022
    https://uncommondescent.com/evolution/neil-thomas-on-evolutionary-theory-as-magical-thinking/#comment-748883

    Further notes

    Anthropic Principle: A Precise Plan for Humanity By Hugh Ross
    Excerpt: Brandon Carter, the British mathematician who coined the term “anthropic principle” (1974), noted the strange inequity of a universe that spends about 15 billion years “preparing” for the existence of a creature that has the potential to survive no more than 10 million years (optimistically).,, Carter and (later) astrophysicists John Barrow and Frank Tipler demonstrated that the inequality exists for virtually any conceivable intelligent species under any conceivable life-support conditions. Roughly 15 billion years represents a minimum preparation time for advanced life: 11 billion toward formation of a stable planetary system, one with the right chemical and physical conditions for primitive life, and four billion more years toward preparation of a planet within that system, one richly layered with the biodeposits necessary for civilized intelligent life. Even this long time and convergence of “just right” conditions reflect miraculous efficiency.
    – per Christian God blog

    Life and Earth History Reveal God’s Miraculous Preparation for Humans – Hugh Ross, PhD – video (2015)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n2Y496NYnm8

    How We Moved Beyond Darwin to the Miracle of Man – Michael Denton – May 11, 2022
    Concluding paragraph: “The more I examine the universe and study the details of its architecture, the more evidence I find that the universe in some sense must have known that we were coming.”
    And it is not only our biological design which was mysteriously foreseen in the fabric of nature. As The Miracle of Man shows, nature was also strikingly prearranged, as it were, for our unique technological journey from fire making, to metallurgy, to the advanced technology of our current civilization. Long before man made the first fire, long before the first metal was smelted from its ore, nature was already prepared and fit for our technological journey from the Stone Age to the present.”
    – per Evolution News

    The Miracle of Man: Extraordinary “Coincidences” All the Way Down –
    – June 9, 2022
    Excerpt: On a new episode of ID the Future, Miracle of Man author and biologist Michael Denton continues his conversation with host Eric Anderson. Here Denton offers a review of several more anthropic “coincidences” in chemistry, biochemistry, and Earth sciences that are fine tuned to allow air-breathing, bipedal, technology-developing terrestrial creatures like ourselves to exist and thrive. The fine tuning, what Denton calls anthropic prior fitness, would seem to require foresight and planning on literally a cosmic scale.
    https://evolutionnews.org/2022/06/the-miracle-of-man-extraordinary-coincidences-all-the-way-down/

    Podcast

    The Miracle of Man: Extraordinary “Coincidences” All the Way Down
    https://idthefuture.com/1609/

    First three parts of the interview with Dr. Denton are here

    1
    https://idthefuture.com/1601/
    2
    https://idthefuture.com/1604/
    3
    https://idthefuture.com/1606/

    Book

    The Miracle of Man: The Fine Tuning of Nature for Human Existence (Privileged Species Series) – May 6, 2022
    https://www.amazon.com/dp/1637120125/

  5. 5
    EugeneS says:

    What I find problematic with things like the Drake equation, is that they assume an ergodic process, which, as we know from those who specialize in defending the putative abilities of biological evolution, life is not. You can’t have it both way, guys.

  6. 6
    bornagain77 says:

    EugeneS, along that line, Dr. Ross’s ‘conservative estimate for a planet capable of supporting intelligent life is 1 chance in 10^1032,

    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

    And that ‘conservative 1 chance in 10^1032 estimate is just the probability of getting one planet in the universe that is capable of hosting intelligent life,,, that does not even take into account the probability against ‘simple’ life spontaneously appearing on that life supporting planet,,,

    DID LIFE START BY CHANCE?
    Excerpt: Molecular biophysicist, Harold Morowitz (Yale University), calculated the odds of life beginning under natural conditions (spontaneous generation). He calculated, if one were to take the simplest living cell and break every chemical bond within it, the odds that the cell would reassemble under ideal natural conditions (the best possible chemical environment) would be one chance in 10^100,000,000,000. You will have probably have trouble imagining a number so large, so Hugh Ross provides us with the following example. If all the matter in the Universe was converted into building blocks of life, and if assembly of these building blocks were attempted once a microsecond for the entire age of the universe. Then instead of the odds being 1 in 10^100,000,000,000, they would be 1 in 10^99,999,999,916 (also of note: 1 with 100 billion zeros following would fill approx. 20,000 encyclopedias)
    http://members.tripod.com/~Black_J/chance.html
    Of note: Harold Joseph Morowitz (Yale) was an American biophysicist who studied the application of thermodynamics to living systems. Author of numerous books and articles, his work includes technical monographs as well as essays. The origin of life was his primary research interest for more than fifty years.

    Nor does it take into consideration the probability against scientifically advanced, i.e. intelligent, life accidentally evolving from that ‘simple’ life on that life supporting planet,,

    16 Steps to Generating Advanced Life | Dr Hugh Ross – July 13, 2017
    Excerpt: Naturalists, materialists, deists, and most theistic evolutionists would answer that the chemicals on early Earth spontaneously self-assembled into a simple cell that was able to reproduce. From there, the cell’s daughters evolved to produce all the life-forms that have ever existed throughout the past 3.8 billion years. Such a history requires that life make at least 16 transitional steps in order to generate advanced life-forms.,,,
    ,,, Evolutionary biologist Francisco Ayala notes that, from a Darwinian perspective, each step is highly improbable. Taking into account just a few of these steps, Ayala determined that the probability of intelligent life arising from bacteria to be less than one chance in 10^1,000,000.(1)
    Physicists John Barrow, Brandon Carter, and Frank Tipler calculated the probability of all 16 steps occurring to be less than one chance in 10^24,000,000.(2) To get a feel for how miniscule this probability is, it is roughly equivalent to someone winning the California lottery 3,000,000 consecutive times where that individual purchases just one lottery ticket each time. Realistically, this probability is indistinguishable from someone winning the California lottery 3,000,000 consecutive times where the individual purchases no tickets at all.
    https://bcooper.wordpress.com/2017/07/13/16-steps-to-generating-advanced-life-dr-hugh-ross/

    Let’s just say that the blind faith required to maintain an atheistic worldview makes the faith of even the most fervent Christians look very rational in comparison.

  7. 7
    martin_r says:

    forced a near-total rewrite of the story of how our solar system came to be.

    Darwinists are always wrong…

    Anyway, comparing the planets, they somehow forgot to mention Earth’s water. Of course, Darwinists don’t have a clue where the Earth’s water comes from.

  8. 8
    tjguy says:

    @1 Seversky
    “With such a wide variety of planets being discovered and none exactly like Earth, it’s looking more like luck than judgement. If there was intelligent agency involved it’s looking more like the method was trial-and-error than intelligent design..”

    Well Sev, I guess that depends on what assumptions you make about the Creator and His purpose for creating the stars.

  9. 9

Leave a Reply