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.
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