104 More Planets & One Amazing System

It keeps getting worse for creationists. They’ve transitioned — with difficulty — from the biblical view of the Earth as the only world in existence, unmovable in the center of the universe, to the post-Galileo view of the Earth as merely one of several planets orbiting the Sun. Most creationists now accept the solar system, but until very recently they insisted that ours was the only planetary system in existence, so they could still believe that Earth was specially created for us as the focus of divine attention.

But in recent years, to their increasing horror, other planetary systems have been discovered. And despite the difficulty of spotting them — we have to be visually lined up with the orbital plane of extra-solar planets in order to see the dimming effect as they transit their stars — more are constantly being sighted.

Our last post on this topic was a few months ago: Oh No! Still More Planets Found. The total of verified extra-solar planets was then 3,200, almost 550 of which are rocky planets like Earth, and 21 of those are in their star’s so-called Goldilocks zone, or rather, the Circumstellar habitable zone.

Today we have even more bad news for the creationists. The website of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) reports: NASA’s Kepler Confirms 100+ Exoplanets During Its K2 Mission. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

An international team of astronomers has discovered and confirmed a treasure trove of new worlds using NASA’s Kepler spacecraft on its K2 mission. Among the findings tallying 197 initial planet candidates, scientists have confirmed 104 planets outside our solar system.

What’s the difference between the Kepler spacecraft and its K2 mission? According to Wikipedia, the Kepler spacecraft is “a space observatory launched by NASA to discover Earth-size planets orbiting other stars.” K2 is what they call its revised mission, after some necessary repairs, “utilizing the disabled Kepler in a way that could detect habitable planets around smaller, dimmer red dwarfs.” Okay, back to NASA. They say:

Among the confirmed is a planetary system comprising four promising planets that could be rocky. The planets, all between 20 and 50 percent larger than Earth by diameter, are orbiting the M dwarf star K2-72, found 181 light years away in the direction of the Aquarius constellation. The host star is less than half the size of the sun and less bright.

That’s quite a planetary system! Let’s return to NASA. They’re still talking about those four rocky planets:

The planets’ orbital periods range from five and a half to 24 days, and two of them may experience irradiation levels from their star comparable to those on Earth. Despite their tight orbits — closer than Mercury’s orbit around the sun — the possibility that life could arise on a planet around such a star cannot be ruled out, according to lead author [Ian] Crossfield, a Sagan Fellow at the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory.

Life can’t be ruled out? The creationists won’t like that. Here’s one more excerpt from NASA:

“This bountiful list of validated exoplanets from the K2 mission highlights the fact that the targeted examination of bright stars and nearby stars along the ecliptic is providing many interesting new planets,” said Steve Howell, project scientist for the K2 mission at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California. “These targets allow the astronomical community ease of follow-up and characterization, providing a few gems for first study by the James Webb Space Telescope, which could perhaps tell us about the planets’ atmospheres.”

There’s another article on this at PhysOrg, Kepler confirms more than 100 planets in single trove. They quote Crossfield:

“Because these smaller stars are so common in the Milky Way, it could be that life occurs much more frequently on planets orbiting cool, red stars rather than planets around stars like our sun,” Crossfield said.


“Our analysis shows that by the end of the K2 mission, we expect to double or triple the number of relatively small planets orbiting nearby, bright stars,” Crossfield said. “And because these planets orbit brighter stars, we’ll be able to more easily study everything possible about them, whether it’s measuring their masses with Doppler spectroscopy — already underway at Keck Observatory and APF — or measuring their atmospheric makeup with the James Webb Space Telescope in just a few years.”

As we’ve said before, it’s not a good time to be a creationist. But then, it never was.

Copyright © 2016. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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15 responses to “104 More Planets & One Amazing System

  1. Most creationists now accept the solar system, but until very recently they insisted that ours was the only planetary system in existence, so they could still believe that Earth was specially created for us as the focus of divine attention.
    Apparently to creationists their deity’s supposed “omnipotence” implies a minimalist approach to the universe, save for the earth and all the special denizens here. It even had to rest after a heavy workout on earth, so likely life elsewhere would be too much of a task.

  2. Good thing for us, and based on the latest Bronze Age science of our creationist friends, we now know we don’t have to visit any of these planets. Nothing to see here folks! It’s all happening here on earth!

  3. And … what if, boys and girls, each of those planetary systems had its own creator and aliens made in her image and … and … each had their own version of the King James Bible and …

  4. “Life can’t be ruled out? The creationists won’t like that.”

    Yeah, we’re shaking in our shoes. Just another example of sensationalizing the trivial. “That’s quite a planetary system!” Gushes The Sensuous One. Does NASA ever caution anyone that planets orbiting small host stars are almost guaranteed to be tidally locked with them. Just like our own moon and Europa are with Earth and Jupiter respectively. Venus and Mercury are on their way. Some revised Drake equations have upwards of 20 variables that reflect what’s needed to support carbon-based life.

    No. I assure you all, that there are no creationists worried about another ~100 planets being discovered.

  5. Fun to see an ID proponent call himself a creationist. What would Casey say?

  6. Most creationists now accept the solar system, but until very recently they insisted that ours was the only planetary system in existence, so they could still believe that Earth was specially created for us as the focus of divine attention.

    Once upon a time the majority of real scientists believed our solar system might be nearly alone in the universe. This was because they subscribed to the hypothesis that planets were formed when two stars passed close enough to each other for their gravity to pull large gobs of matter out of both–matter which then coalesced into planets.

    But the so-called “nebular hypothesis,” which held that planets formed along with their parent stars and therefore that planetary systems might be common, gradually gained support. And the discovery beginning in the 1990s of large numbers of exoplanets has bolstered this idea.

    Creationists, of course, will point out that no truly Earthlike planets have been found. And if and when some are found, creationists will say they don’t count because they’re lifeless. And if life-bearing worlds are identified they’ll say that doesn’t prove anything because no intelligent life has been found. And if intelligent aliens are found, creationists will say they were intelligently designed and created 6,000 years ago just like everything else in the universe, just as Genesis proclaims.

    All glory to the God of the gaps!

  7. Mark Germano, what’s even more fun is seeing an ID opponent call himself a creationist.
    Catholic Ken Miller, the Patron Saint of Dover, identified himself as one in his Day 2 testimony. “God is the author of all things seen and unseen, and that would certainly include the laws of physics and chemistry.”
    So from now on, when you use the term “creationists”, you include Dr. Miller. Thanks for the opportunity to make that clear.

  8. Eric Lipps, you’re getting ahead of yourself. Let’s find extraterrestrial life first before creationist feel the need to explain away ET intelligent life.🙂

  9. Given that the anti-evolutionists do not care to explain anything in the domain of evolutionary biology, there seems to be no need to extrapolate about their silence in yet-to-be-explored domains. It seems that consistency would suggest silence, but consistency is not their signature.

  10. KevenC:

    He also says “…and the reason that once again is that there is no scientific evidence that supports the idea of creationism. Now, it’s very important to define what one means by creationism. I’m a Roman Catholic for example, so I believe the universe was created, and you could always say that means you’re a creationist. But in the modern usage of that language in the United States the word creationist means something quite different, other than a person who simply believes in a supreme being and thinks that there is meaning and order and purpose to the universe.”

    So, yeah. Nice quote mine.

  11. Miller still believes in the Sky Fairy but doesn’t believe in a 6 day creation so he’s not a creationist creationist.
    So, yeah. Nice hairsplitting.

  12. Actually, Theodosius Dobzhansky, in his famous essay, “Nothing In Biology Makes Sense Except In the Light Of Evolution” refers to himself as a creationist.

  13. So now the question becomes why was it “fun to see an ID proponent call himself a creationist”? A Darwinist can call himself a creationist; a creationist can call himself a creationist. But the term somehow doesn’t fit an ID proponent.


  14. The reason that it is interesting to see advocates of ID calling themselves “creationists” is that there has been a history of complaints: “ID is not creationism”. Stars of the ID movement have frequently objected that ID does not take a position on the age of life on Earth, and that the “intelligent designers”, from the point of view of ID, may be something other than the God of the Bible; and therefore, so we are told, “ID is not creationism”.
    That is, the empty semantics has been introduced by the advocates of ID.

  15. No, the term creationist, in the modern sense described by Ken Miller, fits ID proponents quite well.