Remarkable evidence of a designed, young, and stable solar system
Further evidence of the remarkable stability of the solar system is coming to light. We’ve reported on this previously (Creation 44(3):8, 2022). Evidence throughout the galaxy points to other stellar systems (the planets orbiting other stars) being very chaotic. Those planets have highly elliptical orbits, and are generally much closer to the star than those in our own solar system, i.e. well inside the ‘Goldilocks zone’ where life is possible. Medium-sized planets are common in other systems, but there are no medium-sized planets in our solar system; instead, we have gas giants and ice giants on one hand, and small rocky planets like our Earth on the other. Using the Nice model,1 scientists previously found that the gas giants Jupiter and Saturn regulate the orbits of the small inner planets (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars), and have prevented them from becoming unstable and falling closer to the Sun.2
Secular scientists believe that the structure and evolution of the solar system have been shaped by stellar flybys—the nearby passage of another star. Yet mathematical modelling by a team of scientists has suggested that one of these flybys could destabilize the whole system, as the perturbation to one outer planet would have a knock-on effect to all others. E.g., if Neptune’s semimajor axis3 were disturbed by only 0.1 %, then the probability of destabilizing the whole system would increase tenfold over 5 billion years (the naturalistic age assigned to the solar system).4 This is a major problem for naturalistic scenarios.
A further study has recently suggested that our solar system has built-in constraints on the degree of movement of inner planet orbits, preventing them from becoming increasingly chaotic and colliding. French mathematician Henri Poincaré (1854–1912) famously highlighted the impossibility of modelling accurately three or more moving bodies (the three-body problem), where predictability becomes increasingly difficult as time progresses. As such, small changes in the position of the inner planets would compound and destabilize their order in only 100 million years or so, which is about one fiftieth of the supposed evolutionary age assigned to the solar system.
However, the latest mathematical modelling suggests that certain symmetries in the orbits of the planets prevent this, which restricts the chaotic forces at work.5 Yet such stability is not evident in other planetary systems in the Milky Way.
The remarkable stability and order of our solar system points to wonderful design by an intelligent and benevolent God. The chaotic factors would also limit the age of the solar system, pointing to a maximum age less than naturalism allows. As the creation account in Genesis records, the sun, moon, and planets have been intelligently placed in their positions for divine purposes, “for signs and for seasons, and for days and years” (Genesis 1:14).
References and notes
- Named after Nice, France, the location of the observatory where it was first developed in 2005. Return to text.
- Clark, S., Shaken and stirred, New Scientist 252(3363):46–49, 2021. Return to text.
- One half of the long axis of its elliptical orbit. Return to text.
- Brown, G. and Rein, H., On the long-term stability of the solar system in the presence of weak perturbations from stellar flybys, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 515(4):5942–5950, 2022. Return to text.
- Mogavero, F., Hoang, N.H., and Laskar, J., Timescales of chaos in the inner solar system: Lyapunov spectrum and quasi-integrals of motion, Phys. Rev. X 13:021018, 2023. Return to text.