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Milky Way

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Location of our Sun within the Milky Way galaxy.

The Milky Way is the galaxy that contains the solar system among its billions of stars and nebulae. The Milky Way is shaped like a flat disk and has a bulge jutting out of the center. The galaxy has two spiral arms that do not appear clearly to humans on earth, giving it a cloudy and murky picture. This is where the name Milky Way comes from. [1] The origin of the Milky Way, according to the Creationist point of view, dates back to when God first created the universe.

The Milky Way is divided up into four overlapping parts called the halo, the bulge, the thick disk, and the thin disk. In the halo and thick disk, there are older stars with a low level of metal in them.[2] The earth is located within the disk, towards the outer regions rather than near the center. [1] The bulge contains stars with a lot of "metallicity" (abundance of elements heavier than helium) and high cosmic radiation levels. Finally, the thin disk is where the sun is located. In the center of the Milky Way is the nucleus, the galaxy’s dormant black hole. Unlike other galactic centers, this black hole has not yet erupted with high-energy radiation. If it were to explode, it would drag in any wandering star or cluster nearby, which could cause electromagnetic and particle radiation. Thankfully this has not happened. But it goes to show how awesome the power this galaxy holds. The Milky Way was designed beautifully for intelligent life with a natural habitat to sustain it. The wonder is lost on many who take the galaxy’s significance for granted. But humans are truly blessed to live in an environment created specifically for them. Despite many risk factors facing the system, mankind's existence defies logic as the one place in the universe capable of harboring living organisms.[2]

Contents

Origin

The Milky Way as seen from a side view: lying flat.

Creationists reject the big bang theory because it contradicts the Biblical account, which has the Earth created first and the stars formed on the 4th day.

And God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth." And it was so. God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. God set them in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth day. Genesis 1:14-19

The big bang theory also states that the universe is billions and billions of years old, which conflicts with the Biblical chronology. Some say the universe is close to 10 to 15 Ga (a unit of time equal to 1,000,000,000 years) old. The majority of astronomers believe ninety percent of the universe's mass is dark matter; of the ninety, twenty percent consists of hot dark matter, and cold dark matter makes up the other seventy percent. Dark matter includes neutrinos, burnt-out stars, tiny chunks of ordinary matter, and clouds of mysterious particles. Evolutionary astronomers have tried to conduct experiments to determine the role of dark matter in holding galaxies together with its gravitational pull. If galaxies didn't have dark matter to keep them together, their rotation would make them fly apart.[3]

A report by Crézé et al. in Astronomy and Astrophysics presented the case that there is no dark matter in the Milky Way. The report accessed the distribution of stars next to the galactic disk in a radius of 125 parsecs (a unit of length, equal to about 3.26 light-years) surrounding the sun. Analysts could then infer the gravitational mass. The statement concludes that the local dynamical density is "well below all previous determinations leaving no room for any disk shaped component of dark matter".[4] Another report that has similar results is from Honc-Anh Pham of the Paris Observatory who studied the movements of 10,000 stars in the Milky Way disk. Her findings revealed that there was no trace of dark matter within the galactic disk.[3]

Another argument holds that the universe will keep expanding forever or will one day breakdown. For example, the mass density of the universe is represented by the symbol Ω. An astronomer uses this symbol to calculate the progression of the universe. If Ω < 1, then that means that the universe is ‘open’ or expanding, if Ω > 1, then universe is ‘closed’ or collapsing. Popular models say that the universe is Ω = 1, which represents a flat universe.[3]

Creation scientists have argued that the evidence points to a young Milky Way, and by default, a young universe. The thought is that if our galaxy is anything like other galaxies in the universe, then that could potentially lead to the implication of a young universe. But rather than abandon earlier theories and hypotheses, researchers say that there must be a deposit of dark matter within the halo of the Milky Way. Now researchers are trying to find other sources of gravity that hold the galaxies together.[3]

Galactic Habitable Zone

Since speculations of other organisms in the galaxy, scientists have discovered that life simply cannot exist without certain essential elements. Water, for example, is known as the universal solvent and is not only important to a planet, but necessary. Without its unique properties, life could not survive. There are also many contributing cosmological factors for a planet, such as a large moon, the orbit’s position, and the presence of massive planets. The term circumstellar habitable zone (CHZ) is used to describe a ring-sized shape of the best places for the survival of life in a system. Often times it depicts an area surrounding a star where water can last for a long time on a planet. But this term can be loosely applied to any system, even an inhospitable one. In that case, the CHZ would not be relevant. It was not until 1999, that the concept of the galactic habitable zone (GHZ) was born. This gives an account for all of the habitable regions within the Milky Way galaxy. Until this time, scientists were not aware of how dangerous the galaxy was, even around planets, and though it’s a recognized concept, the GHZ has no definite boundaries so it is considered a broad general area. [2]

The conditions that apply to having a GHZ depend on the following: sufficient material/substances to create an organic planet and protection and isolation from cosmic dangers. The properties of metals can also determine what type of terrestrial planet may form, depending on its size and/or geologic activity. The amount of metallicity can neither be too much nor too little because it can pose a threat to life forms. The GHZ cannot be located in any other site other than inside the interstellar space of the Milky Way’s spiral arms. Living within the arms is dangerous as well due to the intense star formation and huge molecular clouds.

The inner regions of the GHZ offer more of a risk to the earth because of its orbital instabilities, radiation explosions, and impacts from comets. In a typical situation, the earth’s magnetic field and ozone layer would be able to put up a barrier against particle radiation, but high amounts of it can affect the earth by ionizing the atmosphere, which would create enough nitrogen oxide to damage the ozone. Besides radiation, inner regions have frequent cometary impacts. They are located in the Kuiper Belt behind Neptune and the Oort cloud. Comets are normally seen near stellar dust and sometimes other stars as well. Because of the metal-rich clouds, the regions’ planets experience more collisions than the planets of the solar system. Also, the galactic environment can easily affect comets, creating a worse scenario for a planet. Possible collisions from asteroids depend upon both Jupiter’s orbit and formation. Oddly, the rest of the Milky Way has no direct influence over the earth. The outer regions have a low metallicity, therefore resulting in small-sized planets, but are considered to be the safer of the two regions. The GHZ is not the standard for all planets but instead provides a guideline of where life can be supported. It also gives explorers the chance to embark on safe travels inside the area. In all, life on earth is not something that could have happened by chance. Were the Milky Way and the earth changed ever so slightly then the whole foundation could come crumbling down. God designed the Milky Way uniquely, placing it to rest among the stars, planets, and other galaxies yet to be explored. This galaxy holds many secrets and wonder, leaving no room to question that the earth and its surroundings were created for great things. The possibilities are endless. [2]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 The Splendor of God's Creation by Dr. Jason Lisle. Taking Back Astronomy. February 28, 2008.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Refugees for Life in a Hostile Universe by Guillermo Gonzalez, Donald Brownlee, and Peter D. Ward. Scientific American, Inc. 2001.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 No Dark Matter Found in the Milky Way Galaxy by Michael Oard and Jonathan Sarfati. Journal of Creation. Volume 13(1):3-4. (April 1999)
  4. Crézé, M., Chereul, E., Bienaymé, O., and Pichon, C., 1998. The distribution of nearby stars in phase space mapped by Hipparcos. Astronomy and Astrophysics 329:920–936

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