Monday, June 5, 2017

7 Things You Need to Know About the Newest Planet or Solar System JUST Discovered by NASA

Introduction

With the plethora of new telescopes that are capable of reaching out to the stars in the Milky Way there are no lack of astronomers making statements that sound certain about their uncertain discoveries. The study of the stars and their satellites is definitely an interesting pursuit, one that has valuable benefits for mankind, but also one that can be used to waste a whole lot of money, and even the lives of those who devote themselves to it.

When you hear of the newest planet or solar system or star, it is important to remember these 7 things:

1. God Created It

The primary purpose of the stars, exoplanets, and moons is to “declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech, night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world (Psalm 19:1-4).” Skeptic Dr. Michael Shermer paraphrases Psalm 19:1 magnificently when he says, “A Hubble Space Telescope photograph of the universe evokes far more awe for creation than light streaming through a stained glass window in a cathedral.”

God created the stars, in their vast expanse and impossible number, with a Word (Genesis 1:14-19) on the fourth day. It is estimated that in the known Universe (Latin - single phrase) that there are enough stars for every person on earth to personally own 11 trillion of them. There are no lack of stars/planets/satellites in the universe for astronomers to discover and research, each tells a story of God’s creative power. Carl Sagan got it right when he said, “There are far more galaxies than people.”

God’s creation is far grander than anything mankind can produce. Astronomy is merely seeing God's creation after he created it.

2. Mankind Discovered Something About It

What mankind has discovered about exoplanets and solar systems heretofore has been entirely confined to the Milky Way Galaxy, a galaxy of nearly 100 billion stars. There are an estimated 100 billion more galaxies to explore, though Hubble’s Ultra Deep Field estimates that as a severe underestimation, if technology and theology allow.

So far the exoplanets discovered by astronomers all tell an interesting story, not a single one has been boring. Some are gas giants, others as small as earth, some are superheated past the temperature of lesser stars, others are supercooled, some rotate, others are tidally locked, some orbit on their star’s equator, others orbit around their star’s poles, some may have been stars once, others may be collapsed gas giants, some have stars as sister satellites, others are so far from their star that if you were standing on the exoplanet you couldn’t discern your star from the starry backdrop, etc.

But what mankind has discovered is currently, drastically, limited by technology. Mankind does not know the molecular makeup of most of the discovered exoplanets, nor even what they look like, and many of the details, such as temperature, atmosphere, and physical attributes are nothing but hypotheses presented by the astronomer or reporter as fact. Anytime you see a picture of a supposed planet that looks like Earth, it is because an artist drew up a picture of an earthlike planet and slapped a name on it of a dim spot on a star trillions of miles away. If technology allows us to see the true pictures of these planets I have no doubt we will be less bored than ever, and enjoy pictures of alien landscapes beyond our imaginations. But they won’t look like Earth, that’d be boring.

3. God is Demonstrating His Creativity Through It

In a universe where no snowflake, no human, no star is exactly the same, God demonstrates his vast creativity. In a universe where a gas giant can orbit its star in 36 hours and exist at 7,800 degrees farenheit (Planet KELT-9b) and another will have its first birthday in about 154,000 Earth years (GU Piscium b has a 160,000 year lap around its star), we see the vast creativity of our Creator. Each of our ~200 billion galaxies has a uniqueness and detail that should make us see the awesome mind of our God.

Not only is its topography, location, temperature, composition, speed, and appearance different, but it even has its own name. “God determines the number of the heavenly bodies; he gives to all of them their names (Psalm 147:4).”

4. God is Sustaining It

KELT-9b, mentioned above as a 7800 degree gas giant, should not exist. The temperatures, radiation, and gravity of its host star should have put an end to it long ago. But what is impossible with stars is possible with God. Likewise, Earth, even in her supposed “Goldilocks Zone” wouldn’t exist for a moment if she were not constantly and totally tweaked by the Sustainer of the Universe.

“He upholds the Universe by the word of his power (Hebrews 1:3).”

5. It is Not in the Goldilocks Zone

Gliese 581d is a planet the right distance from its star for the temperature to sustain water…but if there is water it needs a greenhouse type atmosphere, and it is 8 times the mass of Earth, and it’s star 1/3 the brightness as the sun, and it has 0% the rotation axis of Earth…in other words, it is tidally locked. Earth exists in what many astronomers call the “Goldilock’s Zone” where conditions are “just right” to sustain life. When you hear of a planet being a Goldilocks planet, look at what they mean, usually they mean that one of a million conditions has been met. Hardly a sustainable planet. In other words, don’t buy a one-way ticket to Gliese 581d.

For another example, Earth has a magnetic field that is likely caused by a molten core, where-as Mars lacks this magnetic field and will never be habitable. Neither will any other planet ever meet the necessary life sustaining aspects of Earth, whether this is by design or by consequence it is true.

6. It has been Fatally Affected by Sin

While history has allowed many people to watch stars die, no observable planet has yet met its demise observed by human eyes. That may soon not be the case. Astronomers believe WASP-18b has crossed the event horizon which will end in it being consumed by its host star, as it spirals in a theoretically unsustainable diminishing orbit into the star WASP-18.

All of the exoplanets previously observed and to be observed, and even those that will never be observed by human eyes have an expiration date. Whether they are being consumed by their host, or blasted into smithereens, or will face the purifying fire of the end of the age, they will not exist forever.

So why do stars/planets/humans die? Death is a result of the broken Universe, a universe which has been ravaged by futility, not willingly, but because death entered into the cosmos through sin, the sin of one man Adam, and perpetuated by every human to come after him. Death and decay is the consequence of sin, which ravages everything, and desperately calls for relief, even in the stars groaning (Romans 8:19-22).

7. Redemption is Needed and Coming

But the Creator has not subjected his creation to futility for naught. A New Heaven is hoped for, a recreation of the fallen Universe. Through the cursed death of Jesus Christ and the power of his resurrection God is “reconciling to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross (Colossians 1:20).”

The cosmos currently exists in a state of bondage to the law of sin and death. But a time is coming when all things will be placed under subjection to the reigning king, Jesus Christ, at which time all who hope in the Son of God will be set free from their bondage to corruption.

Conclusion

The planets in this solar system were called of old, “Wandering Stars”, because if you plotted your course and placed your hope in them, they would lead you astray. Their paths are unpredictable without computer processing, and the traveler who hoped to navigate his path by them would meet with a difficult journey and may arrive in a place he did not intend or hope to go.

But Jesus Christ is fixed forever on the Throne of Grace, set your eyes upon him, and spend your time studying him and his word. The exoplanets and other heavenly bodies have their purpose in showing you the glory of God, but they are not the end goal of your existence or your salvation. There is one name given under the stars by which we must be saved, there is salvation in no one else. Look to Jesus, and be saved.

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