Belief that the universe was created a finite time ago by a transcendent Creator has been strengthened by evidence yet again. A new piece of astronomical research brings good news for Christians and bad news for anyone denying God’s existence or equating God with the universe itself.
In the last Astrophysical Journal of 1999, four American and two Ukrainian astronomers strengthened an old proof for the creation event, aka the hot big bang model.1 Using the Multiple Mirror and Keck telescopes, these astronomers made measurements on the two most heavy-element-deficient galaxies known (blue compact galaxies I Zwicky 18 and SBS 0335-052).
What were they looking for? Primordial helium, that is, helium that was produced before any stars had formed. Why? If the hot big bang model is correct, we can expect helium to comprise about 25% of the mass of certain galaxies. Again, why? According to the hot big bang theory, the universe starts out infinitely or almost infinitely hot. But, as the cosmos expands, it cools, much like the combustion chamber in a piston engine.
By the time the universe is one millisecond old, it has cooled down into a sea of protons and neutrons. The only element existing at this time is “simple” hydrogen, a single proton. For a span of about 20 seconds, when the universe is not quite four minutes old, its temperature is just right for nuclear fusion to occur (that is, for the protons and neutrons to fuse together to form elements heavier than simple hydrogen).
The hot big bang theory predicts that about one-fourth of the hydrogen, by mass, will be converted into helium (and tiny amounts of lithium, beryllium, boron, and deuterium, or “heavy” hydrogen) during those twenty seconds. All other elements that exist in the universe (plus a small amount of additional helium) form much later, produced in the nuclear furnaces of stars’ cores.
What did the researchers find? The two galaxies they studied contain 24.62% helium ± 0.15%, by mass. After subtracting the additional helium produced by the stars in these galaxies, the figure is 24.52% ± 0.15%, a perfect match with the hot big bang modelprediction.2 As an added bonus, they determined from their measurements that the number of “species” of light neutrinos (that is, low mass neutrinos) = 3.0 ± 0.15%, further substantiating the model. I’ll bring you details of this discovery in a future article.
- Yuri I. Izotov, et al, “Helium Abundance in the Most Metal-Deficient Blue Compact Galaxies: I Zw 18 and SBS 0335-052,” Astrophysical Journal, 527 (1999), pp. 757-777.
- Izotov et al, p. 776.