A collimated beam of meteoroids from the star Beta Pictoris has been discovered. However, the ejection dynamics at the star and the meteoroids’ detection on Earth cannot be reconciled with a young universe. This discovery directly challenges two tenets of young-earth proponent Dr. Jason Lisle’s model for solving the distant starlight problem.
The 1950s gave us classic sci-fi movies—such as The Thing, The Day the Earth Stood Still, and War of the Worlds—portraying aliens that create havoc on Earth. In more recent decades, scientists have detected extraterrestrial matter that could wreck havoc on a prominent young-earth creation (YEC) model. We’ll discuss data collected from extrasolar meteoroids and the impact they have on a model proposed to resolve young-earth creationism’s distant starlight problem.
Visitors from Another System
In 2000, an astronomer in Australia detected meteoroids that came from another star system.1 Using sophisticated radar tracking technology, he found a collimated stream of interstellar meteoroids. He identified the source as Beta Pictoris (β Pictoris), the second brightest star in the constellation Pictor—which is just over 63 light-years from our solar system. This important discovery offered in situ measurements(measurements that require direct contact with the subject of interest) of material coming from a sun outside of Earth’s solar system. But one unresolved question remained. What mechanism ejected the stream in such a way that allowed the meteoroids to traverse the 63 light-year distance from β Pictoris, yet still appear to originate from one direction in space?
A team of European astronomers discovered a solution to that question in 2004.2 They developed a computer simulation to test variations of a theoretical model that could explain the ejection mechanism at β Pictoris and the observed entry speeds and angles of the meteoroids at Earth. The model agreed closely with the previous radar tracking data and showed that the meteoroids left β Pictoris approximately 700,000 years ago.
Distant Starlight Problem
To understand why the β Pictoris meteoroids pose a challenge to young-earth creationism (YEC), we must look at YEC proposals to solve the “distant starlight problem.” Most young-earth creationists concede that our universe is exceedingly large. The center of our galaxy is 25,000 light-years away and some observed galaxies appear to be billions of light-years away. How then did the light from distant stars and galaxies manage to reach Earth if the universe is only 6,000 years old, as YEC proponents claim it is?
Jason Lisle, an astrophysicist and director of research at the Institute for Creation Research, developed a model to resolve this issue. His model posits that starlight directed toward Earth travels at near-infinite speed.3 Thus, Lisle’s model solves the YEC distant starlight problem and also makes predictions as to how the cosmos should appear to observers on Earth. According to Lisle, objects were created “mature” but the astronomical processes we observe should appear to have been of short duration: