Friday, February 22, 2008

Hidden Creation

One of the excuses I've seen creationists use as to why astronomy can't possibly be right (and thus magic man done it) is that we've "never seen a star form". The response I gave noted that there's 2 primary reasons for this.

1) Unlike star deaths, star births aren't expected to be sudden and dramatic. Even for the most massive stars which collapse the fastest, this takes tens to hundreds of thousands of years. For the less massive stars, this can take even longer! It's not a sudden flick of a light switch were it's not glowing one moment and there the next. Rather, it's a slow process of heating.

2) Stars form behind curtains of dust and gas. Dust and gas block light. They're especially good at blocking light in the regions we really like to look, namely the visible region of the spectrum. However, we can somewhat peer into these nebulae by looking at longer wavelengths which are better able to get through.

Recently, this was spectacularly confirmed by the Spitzer telescope which peered into a dusty patch of sky around Rho Ophiuchi. If an image is taken in the visible part of the spectrum, it looks like the image on the left here.

It's definitely pretty. The stars around the area have wonderfully contrasting colors that make it a popular target in small scopes. But one of the defining characteristics of this area that's overlooked is the dark band near the center of the image. It's dark, boring, and there's not a whole lot going on there. At least not at first glance.

But what's really going on is the process of star formation! When Spitzer peels back the veil of dust and gas, dozens of high mass, young stars are found in the exact region that looks devoid! Some of the stars even have the large circumstellar disks still present.

A careful inspection of various regions in this and the other image released by Spitzer show many other features associated with newly forming stars: jets of material slamming into the cloud in which they're forming, causing bow shocks known as Herbig-Haro objects.

So the creationist canard that we "never see stars form" is a bit of a silly statement. It doesn't happen quickly, but through techniques and telescopes like Spitzer used, we can see frozen vestiges of star formation.

Note: The images above are the same scale and orientation.

9 comments:

Philip said...

Heh. I have a similar blog post I'm working on, though iut'll be next week before it goes up. Nicely done!

defectiverobot said...

They've never seen stars form. What, they can't take it on faith?

Anonymous said...

You know, you guys being so sure you are right is no different than them being so sure they are. Mayhaps there is room for you both.

The biggest thing is that you guys are scientist. Scientist deal in facts. They cannot prove what the beginning was, but neither can you. As scientist, you should not be so sure about believing that evolution started everything. You cannot prove that. So you are doing the very thing that you make fun of here, and that is taking a leap of faith.

Neither will ever prove their claim, but as scientist you should know better.

Jon Voisey said...

You're right. We do know better. We actually use this thing called "evidence". It seems you haven't heard of it or are dishonestly ignoring it.

Leaps of faith occur in the absence of evidence. Given the astoundingly comprehensive and self consistent evidence in favor of evolution, the big bang, and in this post, star formation, calling it a leap of faith is just a pathetic attempt at equivocation.

I'll invite you to drop the logical fallacies before posting here again.

Anonymous said...

Your first wrong assumption is that I am a bible thumper. I do not attend church, and am not sure what i believe.

Your second error is thinking that i do not believe in evolution. I do believe in evolution. Everything that lives evolves and passes that on to following generations, and a lot of the things we see today evolved from something else over the last 4-5 billion years..

But I don't happen to think that it is what started life on this planet, or anywhere else. YOU nor any scientist on this planet can prove that it did. You can prove that things evolve, and I believe you. I see that evidence. But where you make your mistake is saying that it is a fact that life spontaneously started somehow, and evolved into everything we see today. You CANNOT prove that, and you are fooling yourself at best if you believe that. That isn't scientific, it is faith if you believe that because you cannot prove it. No experiment or study has proven it either, If it has, please point it out..

Last thing, you do not know who you are even talking to, and I was not being uncivil in my comment. Why were you?? Why talk so condescending toward me? Because I question your cock-sure assumption that we came from some primordial soup??

Chill out. If it is ever proven that it happened, I'd shout it from the rooftops right beside you.

As to the condescension? I guarantee you that if you want to compare brain pans, I'd at the very least match you.

BTW, nice use of the word equivocation. Did you have that on your "word of the day" toilet paper??

Jon Voisey said...

Anon: Please show me where I insisted you were a bible thumper? I can't seem to find it. I'll thank you not to put words in my mouth.

It seems you're quite misinformed on what evolution actually says about the origin of life. It says precisely nothing. That's an entirely different (and far less supported) theory: Abiogenesis.

And again, I'll invite you to remember that nothing in science is ever "proven". What science does do, is support and falsify hypotheses. If you want to discuss the origin of life (not evolution), then modern science still wins out because the Miller-Urey reaction has showed that complex pre-biotic molecules can spontaneously form. Later versions have even gone as far as to show that we can get self-replicating molecules.

This is quite a long way to showing that life can arise spontaneously. Given that creationists have absolutely no evidence, this is infinitely better.

I was in no way being condescending. I call things as they are. If you're ignoring evidence, I'll point out the academic and intellectual dishonesty in that. If you base arguments in logical fallacies, I'll point out the patheticness of it.

This is in no way personal or condescending. It's simply calling a spade a spade.

And equivocation is a word that comes a lot in these sorts of discussions given that it's a favorite tactic of Creationists.

Anonymous said...

Look, I am merely stating that you sound and act like the creationist. They think they are right, you think you are. I have no dog in the fight.

Please, your comments to me drip with condescension. Like you think you are so much more intelligent and informed. Their comments, while not sounding as learned, read pretty much the same way. They read their book and believe, You read your text books and Darwin, and believe yours. Whether you like it or not, you and yours are much closer to them than you realize.

BTW, Abiogenesis of a couple of replicating cells evolving into every living thing we see on this planet? You can believe that and not call it faith?? Can you produce a fossil record that leads from those cells to just one of the millions of different life forms on the planet now? Don't waist your strength typing it, the answer is no.

I'm sorry for waisting your time. I thought that we could have an intelligent debate. Your already set in your dogma, just like the ones you mock.

Jon Voisey said...

Thinking you're right = sounding like Creationist dogma?

I think your standards are more than a bit off.

I do not "read [my] text books and Darwin, and believe". I'm constantly questioning them to make sure the evidence is comprehensive, self-consistent and concordant with reality.

And yes, I can accept that life was generated without magic intervention without calling it faith. Why? Because although it's not infinitely detailed, there is evidence of it. As with before, you're blithely ignoring that evidence in favor of playing word games. And again, I'll call that for what it is: Pathetic.

Amazing that while you claim not to be a Creationist, you've swallowed one of their absolute dumbest arguments: "Unless you know everything and can produce an infinitely detailed record that, statistically, shouldn't exist, then you don't know anything and it's all 'faith'."

For someone so quick to distance themselves from Creationists without even being accused of it, you sure do spout their exact arguments.

Jon Voisey said...

Anon: Please show me where I insisted you were a bible thumper? I can't seem to find it. I'll thank you not to put words in my mouth.

It seems you're quite misinformed on what evolution actually says about the origin of life. It says precisely nothing. That's an entirely different (and far less supported) theory: Abiogenesis.

And again, I'll invite you to remember that nothing in science is ever "proven". What science does do, is support and falsify hypotheses. If you want to discuss the origin of life (not evolution), then modern science still wins out because the Miller-Urey reaction has showed that complex pre-biotic molecules can spontaneously form. Later versions have even gone as far as to show that we can get self-replicating molecules.

This is quite a long way to showing that life can arise spontaneously. Given that creationists have absolutely no evidence, this is infinitely better.

I was in no way being condescending. I call things as they are. If you're ignoring evidence, I'll point out the academic and intellectual dishonesty in that. If you base arguments in logical fallacies, I'll point out the patheticness of it.

This is in no way personal or condescending. It's simply calling a spade a spade.

And equivocation is a word that comes a lot in these sorts of discussions given that it's a favorite tactic of Creationists.