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Creation 32(3):34–35, July 2010

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Solar system origin: Nebular hypothesis

by Jonathan Sarfati

Skater © iStockphoto/technotr8206-nebular-hypothesisNebula from NASA, JPL-Caltech, P.S. Teixeira (CfA)

According to the eye-witness account in Genesis, God created the earth on Day 1, and the sun and moon on the Fourth Day, most likely along with the planets. However, evolutionists reject a Creator a priori, so need to come up with another explanation.

The leading candidate is called the nebular hypothesis. This proposes that the sun, the earth and the rest of the solar system formed from a nebula, or cloud of dust and gas. The best known pioneer of this was French atheistic mathematician Pierre-Simon Laplace (1749–1827).1 However, despite the dogmatic support by evolutionary astronomers, it has a number of huge problems.

Origin of stars

First of all, if the collapsing cloud theory can’t even explain the sun alone, then it is doomed from the start. To form the sun, or any star, a cloud must be dense enough to collapse and compress the interior so that it becomes hot enough for nuclear fusion to start. But most gas clouds have a tendency to expand rather than contract.

The British mathematician and astrophysicist James Jeans (1877–1946) calculated how massive a cloud must be so that gravity can overcome the tendency for gas to expand. 

 The main points are: high density favours collapse, and high temperature favours expansion. The minimum mass he calculated relates to both of these, and is now called the Jeans Mass (MJ).2 

But according to the big bang theory, at the time the first stars were formed, the temperature was so high that the required Jeans Mass would be about 100,000 suns.3 This is about the same mass as a globular cluster, i.e. no cloud less massive than this could have collapsed into a star, thus no star could have formed this way.4 Abraham Loeb, of Harvard’s Center for Astrophysics, says, “The truth is that we don’t understand star formation at a fundamental level.”5,6 

Origin of planets

So, stars alone can’t be explained by such naturalistic conjectures. However, the planets are even more problematic, with several additional problems.

Angular momentum

The truth is that we don’t understand star formation at a fundamental level.— Abraham Loeb, Harvard’s Center for Astrophysics

One major problem can be shown by accomplished skaters spinning on ice. As skaters pull their arms in, they spin faster. This effect is due to what physicists call the Law of Conservation of Angular Momentum. Angular momentum = mass x velocity x distance from the centre of mass, and always stays constant in an isolated system. When the skaters pull their arms in, the distance from the centre decreases, so they spin faster or else angular momentum would not stay constant.

In the formation of our sun from a nebula in space, the same effect would have occurred as the gases allegedly contracted into the centre to form the sun. This would have caused the sun to spin very rapidly. But our sun spins very slowly, while the planets move very rapidly around the sun. In fact, although the sun has over 99% of the mass of the solar system, it has only 2% of the angular momentum.

This pattern is directly opposite to the pattern predicted for the nebular hypothesis. Evolutionists have tried to solve this problem, but a well-known solar system scientist, Dr Stuart Ross Taylor, admitted when discussing the angular momentum problem that “a predictive theory of nebular evolution is still lacking.”7 

Sun’s axial tilt

If the sun and the planets were formed by a collapsing nebula, then the sun should be spinning in the same plane as the planets. However, its axis is tilted 7.167º away from the ecliptic, which is defined by Earth’s orbit. A better comparison would be Jupiter’s orbital plane, since it has most of the planetary mass and angular momentum of the solar system. Jupiter’s orbital inclination is 1.308º from the ecliptic, so this still leaves almost 6º difference.

The anomalous tilts of the planets are usually explained by invoking collisions,8 but this would not apply to the sun.9

Rocky planets

Evolutionary astronomers believe that the planets arose from collisions of dust particles which melted and stuck together to form larger blobs of molten rock. These blobs further accreted to form larger and larger blobs till the inner planets were formed: Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars. However, research has shown that the rocks would not melt, but most likely “simply zoom past each other or collide and recoil like snooker balls.”10 

Gas giants

The huge planets Jupiter and Saturn are meant to have formed far enough away from the sun so that ice could condense. This would mean extra mass, thus strong enough gravity to suck in gas from the nebula. But Jupiter’s core turns out to be too small to do this. And simulations indicate that the solar nebula would have dissipated before the core had a chance to grow big enough. Furthermore, the nebula would be so unstable that the planets would spiral into the sun.11 

 Pssst … astronomers who model the formation of the solar system have kept a dirty little secret: Uranus and Neptune don’t exist. Or at least computer simulations have never explained how planets as big as the two gas giants could form so far from the sun. — Robert Naeye

When it comes to the ‘Ice Giants’, Uranus and Neptune, problems are even more acute,12 as one evolutionary astronomer admitted:

“Pssst … astronomers who model the formation of the solar system have kept a dirty little secret: Uranus and Neptune don’t exist. Or at least computer simulations have never explained how planets as big as the two gas giants could form so far from the sun. Bodies orbited so slowly in the outer parts of the solar system that the slow process of gravitational accretion would need more time than the age of the solar system to form bodies with 14.5 and 17.1 times the mass of Earth.”13

Retrograde motion

The nebular hypothesis predicts that as the nebula spiralled inwards, all the resulting planets and comets would rotate and orbit in the same direction (prograde). But Venus rotates in the opposite direction, called retrograde.14 Furthermore, a comet was discovered with a retrograde orbit,15 and a recently discovered extra-solar stellar system has planets in retrograde orbits, opposite from the star’s spin. One secular article stated: That finding is inconsistent with the view that planets are formed by the condensation of dust from a disk surrounding a newly formed star. Some other planets were found to have highly tilted orbits that are also at odds with conventional theory.16


Although the nebular hypothesis is accepted uncritically by many evolutionists, there are severe problems with forming both the sun and the planets from a collapsing cloud. The best explanation is still, “By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host” (Psalm 33:6).

First posted on homepage: 12 September 2011
Re-posted on homepage: 14 June 2023

References and notes

  1. Laplace, P., Exposition du Système du Monde (Exposition of the System of the World), 1796. Return to text.
  2. Jeans Mass (MJ) = Kρ–1/2T3/2, where K is a constant, ρ is the density, and T is the temperature. Alternatively, this can be expressed as MJ ≈ 45M n–1/2T3/2, where M is the solar mass, n is the density of atoms per cm3, and T is the temperature in Kelvins. Return to text.
  3. According to big bang theory, the temperature was about 3,000 and density about 6,000, therefore MJ ≈ 105 MReturn to text.
  4. Wieland, C., and Sarfati, J., “He made the stars also”—interview with creationist astronomer Danny Faulkner, Creation 19(4):42–44, 1997. Return to text.
  5. Quoted by Marcus Chown, Let there be light, New Scientist 157(2120):26–30, 7 February 1998. Return to text.
  6. See also Stars could not have come from the big bang , Creation 20(3):42–43, 1998. Return to text.
  7. Taylor, S., Solar System Evolution: A New Perspective, 2nd edition, Cambridge University Press, p. 64, 2001. Return to text.
  8. Carroll, B., and Ostlie, D., An Introduction to Modern Astrophysics, pp. 890–891, Addison-Wesley, 1996. Return to text.
  9. Worraker, W., The sun—the greater light to govern the day, Origins 37/38:11–15, 2004. Return to text.
  10. Muir, H., Earth was a freak, New Scientist 177(2388):24, 29 March 2003. Return to text.
  11. Psarris, S., Jupiter: king of the planets and testament to our Creator, Creation 30(3):38–40, 2008; creation.com/jupiter2. Return to text.
  12. Psarris, S., Neptune: monument to creation: According to evolutionary ideas Neptune should not exist! What is its secret?, Creation 25(1):22–24, 2002; creation.com/neptune. Return to text.
  13. Naeye, R., Birth of Uranus and Neptune, Astronomy 28(4):30, 2000. Return to text.
  14. Sarfati, J., Venus: cauldron of Fire, Creation 23(3):30–34, 2001; creation.com/venus. Cf. Spencer, W., The search for Earth-like planets, J. Creation 24(1):72–76, 2010. Return to text.
  15. Sarfati, J., and Catchpoole, D.,  Backwards comet perplexes scientists, Creation 31(4): 38–39, 2009; creation.com/backwards-comet. Return to text.
  16. Maugh, T., Distant planets rattle theories with their orbit, Los Angeles Times, 13 April 2010. Return to text.