While scientists have been diligently searching for other life-supporting planets, no habitable, life-supporting planet has yet been found. As it turns out, a planet must fit within very specific parameters to be capable of supporting life.
This article identifies just four of the parameters a planet must fit within to be capable of supporting life — 1) the planet must reside in the just-right kind of galaxy, 2) the planet must be at a just-right location within the galaxy, 3) the planet must be located at a just-right position near two types of supernovae and 4) the planet must be located a just-right distance from the kind of star that produces certain elements needed to support life.
For a planet to be capable of supporting life, the planet’s parent star (such as our Sun) must: 1) reside in a just-right galaxy — a spiral galaxy, 2) reside in a just-right location within the galaxy — at the co-rotation radii, 3) be in a just-right location relative to Type 1 and Type II supernovae within the galaxy and 4) must be in a just-right location relative to a white dwarf star in a binary star system with a large star within the galaxy. [See, Hugh Ross, The Creator and the Cosmos, pgs. 179-180, 188-189 (2001)]
The universe contains three basic types of galaxies: 1) spiral galaxies like the Milky Way Galaxy that Earth resides in, 2) elliptical galaxies and 3) irregular galaxies.
Image Credit: NASA more >>
In order for a planet to be capable of supporting life, the planet must reside in a galaxy capable of supplying the planet with all the elements needed to support life (e.g., carbon, iron, oxygen, potassium, nitrogen, etc.)
Life cannot exist in an elliptical galaxy because stars stop forming in these kinds of galaxies before the galaxy is enriched with essential life-supporting heavy element materials (e.g., iron, nickel, copper, aluminum, etc.) Life cannot exist on planets in large irregular galaxies because large irregular galaxies have active nuclei which spew out toxic materials and radiation which are deadly to life. Planets located in small irregular galaxies cannot support life because the stars in those galaxies do not produce sufficient amounts of the heavy element material needed to support life.
Scientists now know only a spiral galaxy (like our Milky Way Galaxy) is capable of providing a planet with sufficient amounts of all of the essential elements needed to support life on a planet in the galaxy. Only 6% of all the billions and billions of galaxies in the universe are spiral galaxies and only some of those spiral galaxies can house a life-supporting planet. If the central bulge of a spiral galaxy is too big, the planets in the galaxy will be bombarded with intense deadly radiation but if the bulge is too small, not enough gas and dust will be funneled to the zone of the galaxy where a life-supporting planet can reside. [See, Hugh Ross, The Creator and the Cosmos, pgs. 176-178 (2001)]
A Planet Must Be At a Just-Right Location between Two Spiral Arms
A life-supporting planet must not only reside in a just-right spiral galaxy but the planet must reside in a just-right location within the galaxy. No planet residing in either the central bulge of a spiral galaxy or in any of the spiral arms of a spiral galaxy is capable of supporting life because there are too many stars located in those areas. Star congestion is a problem for a life-supporting planet for at least two reasons: 1) stars produce radiation and too much radiation is deadly to life and 2) stars exert gravitational force and too many nearby stars would destabilize the planet resulting in deadly temperature variations, unstable atmospheres, high velocity winds, etc. However, if the planet were to be located on the outer edge of a spiral galaxy, where there is no star congestion, there wouldn’t be a sufficient number of stars to provide the planet with necessary amounts of life essential elements produced by stars (e.g., carbon, iron, oxygen, potassium, nitrogen, etc.)
Indeed, in order for life to exist on a planet in a spiral galaxy, the parent star must be located between two spiral arms and the parent star must stay between the spiral arms without getting swept up into one of the adjacent spiral arms where there is too much star congestion. As it turns out, there is only a few such locations in a spiral galaxy which scientists refer to as co-rotation radii. Only .0001% (much less than 1%) of all stars in a spiral galaxy are located at co-rotation radii. As depicted in the illustration below, our star (the Sun) is located in this rare position.
Because our sun is one of the rare stars located at a co-rotation radius, Earth is supplied with necessary life-essential elements and Earth’s orbit has remained stable such that Earth has not been subjected to deadly temperature variations, unstable atmospheres, high velocity winds or a variety of other problems associated with unstable orbits that would make life on Earth impossible for advanced life.
A Planet Must Be in a Just-Right Position Relative to Two Types of Supernovae
A supernova is an explosion of a star which causes the materials produced by the star (e.g., iron, aluminum, silver, copper, oxygen, carbon, potassium, sulfur, nitrogen, etc.) to be expelled into space where the materials can be collected by nearby planets. Without a sufficient supply of these life essential elements, Earth would not be capable of supporting life. Type I supernovae give off one group of life essential elements and Type II supernovae produce a different group of life essential elements. In order for life to exist on a planet, all the life essential elements must be provided to the planet at the just-right time and in the just-right quantities.
Scientists have determined Earth has been provided with just the right quantities of the heavy elements needed to support life because a Type I supernova and a Type II supernova occurred at the just right time (i.e., when the Sun’s solar nebula was formed). However, once life began existing on Planet Earth, it was necessary for the number of supernovae occurring close enough to affect life on Earth to dramatically decrease; otherwise, life on the planet would be exterminated by the deadly radiation expelled from supernovae explosions.
Even if a star (like the Sun) resides at a just-right location at a just-right time for planets orbiting the star to get the just-right amounts of life essential elements from a Type I supernova and a Type II supernova, there is still one necessary heavy element a life-supporting planet must have that it cannot get from supernovae, namely, fluorine. Without fluorine, certain proteins necessary for life could not form.
Fluorine is only produced in sufficient quantities on the surfaces of white dwarf stars (like Sirius B in the adjacent photograph — see the small white dot next to the lower left ray). Additionally, the white dwarf stars must be in a binary star system with a larger star (like the very large star Sirius A depicted in the adjacent photograph)
The larger star must also be close enough to the white dwarf so that when the star loses the material needed to manufacture fluorine on the white dwarf, the material will gravitate to (and be collected by) the white dwarf.
Finally, after fluorine is manufactured on the surface of the white dwarf, the fluorine must then be expelled from the white dwarf into interstellar space so it may be collected and retained by the life-supporting planet.
Because our star (the sun) resides in a just-right spiral galaxy and is located in a just-right position between the spiral arms of the galaxy as well as being located near Type 1 and Type II supernovae in addition to a white dwarf star in a binary star system with a large star in the galaxy, Planet Earth has been provided with all of the elements necessary to support life (e.g., carbon, iron, oxygen, potassium, nitrogen, fluorine, etc.). [See, Hugh Ross, The Creator and the Cosmos, pgs. 179-180, 188-189 (2001)]
As referenced in this article and other articles on this website, the exquisite precision and chance calculations involved with all of the numerous finely-tuned design features necessary for life to exist in the universe are astronomical — numbers like 1060 (the mass density of the universe here >>), 10100 (the weak nuclear force here >>), and 10120 (the energy density of the universe here >>).
The incomprehensibility of this kind of fine-tuning is more fully appreciated when one considers that there are only about 1025 grains of sand on all the beaches on Planet Earth. This means that fine-tuning in the order of 1060 is like saying not a single grain of sand could be added to or removed from one beach on Planet Earth without causing the entire planet to be incapable of supporting life. Indeed, this illustration is tremendously understated because it assumes a change in one part in about 1025 (the estimated number of grains of sand on Earth) whereas the total mass density of the universe must be fined-tuned to within one part in 1060 and dark energy must be fined tuned to 10120, which are substantially greater numbers than 1025.
When one looks at the probability calculations for life to have developed by chance, the numbers are even more incomprehensible. For example, just the chance of amino acids randomly coming together to form the 2,000 enzymes which are essential for life to exist has been calculated as only one chance in 1040,000 here >>.
Taking all of the fine-tuned features that must exist in a life-permitting universe into consideration, Donald Page of Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Science has calculated that the odds of the universe developing by blind, random chance into a form suitable for life as one chance in 10,000,000,000124 here >>, which is a number so large that it exceeds all imagination. [Ravi Zacharias, The End of Reason, pg. 35 (2008)]
“A commonsense interpretation of the facts suggests that a super intellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question.” (Emphasis added). [Fred Hoyle, “The Universe: Past and Present Reflections,” Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics 20, pg. 16 (1982)]
Consequently, Christian apologists maintain there simply is no compelling reason why belief in an intelligent designer (rather than random chance) is not a rational explanation, if not the most rational explanation, for the existence of the universe and life in the universe. This is especially true when one considers the multiple independent lines of argumentation for God’s existence including:
- God’s existence best explains why anything exists rather than nothing (an argument for the existence of a “first uncaused cause”) here >>
- God’s existence best explains the cause of the universe coming into existence (the Kalam Cosmological Argument) here >>
- God’s existence best explains all the mind-boggling, just-right design features scientists have discovered throughout the universe which make it possible for life to exist in the universe (the Intelligent Design aka Teleological Argument) here>>
- God’s existence best explains the existence of objective morality
- God’s existence best explains man’s search for, and innate belief in, meaning, purpose and significance
© 2012 by Andrina G. Hanson
Published: July 18, 2012 / Last Updated: April 23, 2013
QUICK LINKS TO SOURCES REFERENCED OR RELIED ON IN THIS ARTICLE
Kenneth D. Boa and Robert M. Bowman, 20 Compelling Evidences That God Exists: Discover Why Believing In God Makes so Much Sense(River Oak Publishing, 2002)
William Lane Craig, On Guard: Defending Your Faith with Reason and Precision(Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook; New Edition, 2010)
Hugh Ross, The Creator and the Cosmos: How the Greatest Scientific Discoveries of the Century Reveal God(Navpress; 2 edition, 1995)
R.C. Sproul, Not a Chance: The Myth of Chance in Modern Science and Cosmology(Baker Books, 1999)
IMAGE CREDITS & LICENSING
Slideshow Photo: Milky Way Panorama by Digital Sky LLC downloaded from www.wikimedia.org which states the image is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license. Northern hemisphere shots were taken in Ft. Davis, Texas and Southern hemisphere shots were taken from Broken Hill, New South Wales, Australia. (Back to article >>)
Center of the Milky Way Galaxy: This image of the center of the Milky Way was taken with a European Southern Observatory telescope with a near- and mid-infrared spectrometer and camera. The image was downloaded from www.wikimedia.org which states the image was produced by the ESO and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license. (Back to article >>)
Milky Way Galaxy with Sun: This artistic rendering of the Milky Way galaxy which depicts the location of the Sun was downloaded from www.wikimedia.org which states the image is in the public domain because it was solely created by NASA. (Back to article >>)
Exploding Supernova: This NASA illustration by Justyn R. Maund (University of Cambridge), was downloaded from www.wikimedia.org which states the image is in the public domain because it was solely created by NASA. (Back to the article >>)
Sirius A and B: This 2003 Hubble Space Telescope image shows Sirius A (the brightest star in the nighttime sky) and it’s companion star, Sirius B (the faint dot located in the lower left) of the photograph. Downloaded from www.wikimedia.org which states the image is the public domain because it was created by NASA and the ESA. Credit: H. Bond (STScI) and M. Barstow (University of Leicester). (Back to the article >>)
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