Kepler-78b: The “scorching lava world” that “shouldn’t exist”



The Apostle Peter warned of a time when scoffers would come, deliberately ignoring the fact that it was by God’s Word that the heavens and earth came into existence (2 Peter 3:3–5). Today, in fact, there are many in the public sphere who assert no Creator was necessary. And rather than accept the Bible’s account of creation in six days some 6,000 years ago, they instead claim that the universe formed by naturalistic processes (i.e. by itself) over billions of years.

However, scientists today repeatedly encounter evidence that thwarts theories of evolutionary origins and long-age timelines.1 An example is the exoplanet Kepler-78b, about 20% larger than Earth and weighing twice as much, recently discovered2 in the constellation Cygnus. Its discovery is so confronting to planetary formation theories that a media release by the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) proclaimed, “Kepler-78b is a planet that shouldn’t exist.”3

The evolutionary astronomers are primarily fretting about the closeness4 of “this scorching lava world”5 to its star, circling it in only eight and a half hours—one of the tightest known orbits in the universe. This makes it “an abomination”5 to current planet formation theories, because Kepler-78b’s present orbit would have been inside its own star early in the mooted evolutionary origins of this planetary system, when the star is said to have been much larger. That is of course impossible, as CfA astronomer Dimitar Sasselov explained:

It couldn’t have formed in place because you can’t form a planet inside a star. It couldn’t have formed further out and migrated inward, because it would have migrated all the way into the star. This planet is an enigma.5

Fellow CfA astronomer David Latham echoed, “This planet is a complete mystery. We don’t know how it formed or how it got to where it is today.”5

Kepler-78b is only one such ‘complete mystery’ of many ‘exoplanet enigmas’ discovered of late.6 It underlines once again the failure of all attempts to explain the formation of planets naturalistically.7 Surely there’s a message there, for anyone willing to receive: “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” (Psalm 19:1)

References and notes

  1. Batten, D., Age of the earth—101 evidences for a young age of the earth and the universe, 4 June 2009. Return to text.
  2. By means of data sent from the telescope on NASA’s Kepler spacecraft launched in 2009, and later confirmed using measurements from the high-precision spectrometer HARPS-North at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory on La Palma and the HIRES spectrograph at the Keck Observatory, Hawaii. Return to text.
  3. Mystery world baffles astronomers, Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics media release no. 2013-25,, 30 October 2013. Return to text.
  4. Less than 1.6 million km (one million miles). Return to text.
  5. O’Neill, I., Kepler-78b: Mystery exoplanet shouldn’t even exist,, 30 October 2013. Return to text.
  6. Planets baffle big bangers, Creation 36(3):9, 2014; Return to text.
  7. Hartnett, J.G., Planetary system formation: exposing naturalistic storytelling;, 14 April 2016. Also, Psarris, S., Our created solar system DVD (available from CMI). Return to text.