Mountain climbers know the dangers of traversing the snow line. Conditions change dramatically, and life becomes difficult. However, a greater danger lies far beyond high mountaintops; in fact, way out in space. Astronomers have demonstrated that planetary systems develop snow lines of their own, and it’s hazardous to any living thing to be on the wrong side of those lines too. A solar system “snow line” refers to the distance away from a star where volatile gases (such as water vapor) freeze. Our solar system’s snow line, at least for now, lies a fair distance beyond Mars, where outside this line gas-giant planets like Jupiter can form. Why is this line important? As Hugh Ross explains in detail on Creation Update, scientists have discovered characteristics of planetary system snow lines that provide evidence for the supernatural design of our solar system. Astrophysicists have learned that in the early stages of planetary system formation, the snow line moves rather rapidly and dramatically back and forth, closer to or away from the star. The timing, placement, and degree of these movements dictate whether the conditions for forming a life-support planet like Earth can occur. In other words, without many “just-right” features in the history of this snow line “you can kiss life goodbye” to paraphrase Hugh. For those who tend to worry, the snow line continues to move, so life will cease to exist in the future when the sun’s increasing brightness vaporizes Earth. Don’t fret too much, though-it’s about 4 billion years away. The good news is that humans live at the ideal time in the snow line’s history to make life possible. It seems no accident that we live in a comfort zone, with Earth located at the just-right distance from this snow line. And, as researchers gain understanding of planetary system formation, they detect more evidence for the rare, if not unique, fine-tuning of our solar system. It’s natural to think about snow lines here in Southern California during the winter. But I never thought I’d be thinking about solar system snow lines. I’m grateful that the big snow line resides right where it is out past Mars.
- The Creator and the Cosmos, 3rd ed., by Hugh Ross
- Rare Earth, by Peter D. Ward and Donald Brownlee
- Hugh Ross, Fine-Tuning for Life in the Universe (Updated August 2006)