Saturday, February 03, 2007

Stellar Evolution

[I seriously apologize for the length of this post. I guess I got carried away.]

A couple weeks ago John Voisey, The Angry Astronomer offered a post which was prompted by a lengthy conversation we were having in the comment section of one of my posts.

As he is an astronomy major, I suggested he read this link on stellar evolution which was written by Dr. Walt Brown, who is a creation scientist.

Jon took me up on my suggestion and posted a critique regarding what he read. Before you read my response, please read his post carefully.

Okay, I had planned to get to this much sooner, but last week I had other fish to fry and it had been a while since I had read Brown’s link on stellar evolution so I wanted to read it again before I responded. As I was reading, I found it so fascinating that I decided to take my time and check it all out very thoroughly. Jon, you’ve picked an interesting major. If I had to do it again, perhaps I’d become an astronomer!!

Anyway, Jon was very harsh in his response to Brown’s work, and I’ll offer some advise for him and other students after I address some of these issues that he found problematic.

Jon quotes Brown and then offers his response:
“Evolutionists claim that stars form from swirling clouds of dust and gas. For this to happen, vast amounts of energy, angular momentum, and residual magnetism must be removed from each cloud. This is not observed today, and astronomers and physicists have been unable to explain, in an experimentally verifiable way, how it could happen.”

...Regardless, the claim that energy must be lost is absolutely true. However, the claim that we do not observe such things is a blatant lie. Newly forming stars are able to shed this excess energy in numerous ways, the most prominent among them being mass outflow in both the form of stellar wind as well as jets. Many stars in regions which are forming new stars have been observed with precisely such properties.
You need to read more carefully. I am quite sure that Brown knew about the form of energy loss you are talking about when you were still in diapers. The trouble is that energy loss from existing stars does not form new stars. You might read his endnotes on that narrow topic carefully without complaining about the dates of the citations.

Here’s a thought... Rather than accuse Dr. Brown of "lying", perhaps you might have considered linking to a source which would have provided an "experimentally verifiable way" in which to assure us that this mass outflow in the form of stellar wind and jets actually results in new star formation.

Jon quotes Brown and offers a response:
“If [O class] stars evolved, they should show easily measurable characteristics such as extremely high rates of rotation and enormous magnetic fields.”

This statement is pulled out of thin air with no justification or reasoning I can find. This would be like me saying "If the bible is true, then pigs should fly."

Since it makes no sense, I can't properly address it.
Let's look at that whole paragraph:

The most luminous stars in our galaxy, called O stars, are “burning fuel” hundreds of thousands of times more rapidly than our Sun. This is so rapid that they must be quite young on an evolutionary time scale. If these stars evolved, they should show easily measurable characteristics such as extremely high rates of rotation and enormous magnetic fields. Because these characteristics are not observed, it seems quite likely these stars did not evolve.
I guess I don't understand why it doesn't "make sense". But, we'll get on to something quite interesting here in a bit about the age of stars and how that relates to the current belief of how old the universe is. Hang tight...

John quotes Brown and offers response:
“Instruments which could detect dust falling into and forming supposedly new stars have not done so.”

Another outright lie. Perhaps due to the fact that they are (presumably intentionally) using horribly outdated sources (they cite two, from 1990 and 1985 respectively). With the advent of the Hubble telescope, we have directly observed infalling matter into protostellar disks (Note: Several of those images also show the matter outflows which carry off the excess energy I mentioned earlier). “
Yes, the article you linked to is related to infalling matter, but it doesn't appear to me that Dr. Brown is stating that infalling matter doesn't occur, but that if this infalling matter were forming new stars, instruments should be able to measure this occurrence. As he stated:

"If stars evolve, star births would about equal star deaths. Within our Milky Way Galaxy alone, about one star dies each year and becomes an expanding cloud of gas and dust. Deaths of more massive stars are much brighter, more violent explosions called supernovas. Star births, on the other hand, would appear as new starlight not present on the many photographic plates made decades earlier. Instruments which could detect dust falling into and forming supposedly new stars have not done so. Actually, stars that some astronomers believe are very new are expelling matter. We have seen hundreds of stars die, but we have never seen a star born. [my emphasis]"
Jon quotes Brown and offers a response:
“Also, stars are found where astronomers agree they could not evolve, near the center of our galaxy. These short-lived stars orbit a massive black hole, where gravity is so strong that gas and dust clouds could never evolve into a star.”

True enough, but this makes the horrible assumption that stars stay where they're formed. This animation clearly shows they don't. Stars can inevatably[sic] form further out and migrate in due to gravitational perturbations.
Perhaps you noticed that one of the comments made on your post affirmed the fact that there would have had to have been actual star formation near the Galactic center...

mollishka said..

"A working model for explaining the presence of young stars at the Galactic center would almost certainly involve actual star formation near the SMBH ... we see stars there that are simply too young to have all reasonably migrated inward. One theory is that there is/was somehow a cold, (physically) thin disk of orbitting[sic] gas and dust and that stars formed out of this ... one piece of evidence for this is that there appear to be stars orbitting[sic] in "rings" about Sgr A*.

Also, the Milky Way and possibly Andromeda are the only two galaxies we can actually examine at high enough resolution to study stellar populations within 1 parsec of a SMBH."
Granted, there are some "theories" and animations floating around out there as to how this might have occurred, but certainly they are ~speculative~. Give me some solid evidence. You might also note that later in your post you incorrectly stated that the third citation to this paragraph was "horribly outdated". The date of the article cited was 2003. Let's take a closer look at those citations:

e. “In fact, given our current understanding of how stars form and the properties of the galactic center, it’s [stellar evolution near the galactic center is] not allowed to happen.” Andrea M. Gaze, as quoted by Ron Cowen, “Mystery in the Middle,” Science News, Vol. 163, 21 June 2003, p. 394.

*“For example, no one can explain how the stars—which are 15 times heftier than our sun—got there [near the center of our galaxy]. According to most astronomical models, they are too big to have formed in the chaos of the galactic center but appear to be too young to have moved there from farther out.” Robert Irion, “The Milky Way’s Dark, Starving Pit,” Science, Vol. 300, 30 May 2003, p. 1356.

“The bizarre question of the hour is what the young stars are doing there at all. Clouds of gas need a calm and cold setting to collapse into a ball dense enough to ignite nuclear fusion. Yet gravitational tidal forces—from the black hole and from stars in the galaxy’s nucleus—make the galactic center the antithesis of such a [stellar] nursery.” Ibid., p. 1357.

*“Ironically, stars such as these have no business being so close to a black hole ... there is no plausible explanation of how and why the hot, young stars near the centre of the Milky Way and Andromeda got there.” Fulvio Melia, “Odd Company,” Nature, Vol. 437, 20 October 2005, p. 1105.
All citations are within the last five years and are quite convincing.

Jon quotes Brown and offers a response:
“Nor could stars have evolved in globular clusters...

Good thing that we don't see stars being born in globular clusters.
Let's look at the whole paragraph:

"Nor could stars have evolved in globular clusters, where up to a million stars occupy a relatively small volume of space. [See Figure 161 on page 315.] Wind and radiation pressure from the first star in the cluster to evolve would have blown away most of the gas needed to form subsequent stars in the cluster. In other words, if stars evolved, we should not see globular clusters, yet our galaxy has about 200 globular clusters. For so many stars to be packed so tightly together requires that they all came into existence at about the same time."
Actually we don't "see" stars evolving in global clusters, though some ~speculate~ that this is occurring. Perhaps you might take the time to peruse another portion of Brown's book which he referenced at the end of the first sentence of that paragraph. Read it very carefully as this might help you realize that there are even bigger problems with the notion of stellar "evolution" and globular clusters than you may be aware of.

Jon quotes Brown and offers a response:
“Wind and radiation pressure from the first star in the cluster to evolve would have blown away most of the gas needed to form subsequent stars in the cluster.”

This would presume that the first star would instantly sweep out all gas, before others could form. Given that interstellar clouds we see forming stars today are tens to hundreds of light years across, this is an amazingly absurd claim. If the claim were true, we should not even see newly forming open clusters. Yet we do with the Pleaides, the orion nebula, the Tarantula nebula, or the Eagle nebula. The fact that we see such things forming numerous stars from the same cloud demonstrates how hollow that claim is.

It should also be noted that globular clusters we see today are not as they would have been when they first formed, billions of years ago. The clusters would have been much larger and spread out. As they orbit the galaxy, they would undergo tidal stripping. When this happens, outlying stars are pulled off while stars that remain are pulled in even closer. As such, the density of globular clusters is not indicative of their initial density.
In that paragraph, Brown is talking about globular clusters, not interstellar clouds. From what I understand, interstellar clouds are tens to hundreds of light years across, but globular clusters are much smaller.

But, if you read the link I provided in my last paragraph, you probably don't need to worry much about trying to figure out what to do about this loss of gas. Obviously, you have other more serious issues to deal with.

You mentioned that we see newly forming stars in open clusters. If you would have read a bit further down on that initial link you were critiquing you would have noticed a section titled: Stellar Nursery, or Is the Emperor Naked? Let's consider the information provided about the Eagle nebula:

NASA’s claim in 1995 that these pictures (Figure 25) showed hundreds to thousands of stars forming was based on the speculative “EGG-star formation theory.” It has recently been tested independently with two infrared detectors that can see inside the dusty pillars. Few stars were there, and 85% of the pillars had too little dust and gas to support star formation. “The new findings also highlight how much astronomers still have to learn about star formation.” [Ron Cowen, “Rethinking an Astronomical Icon: The Eagle’s EGG, Not So Fertile,” Science News, Vol. 161, 16 March 2002, pp. 171–172.]


Okay, that addressed your response to Brown’s work, now I have a few other things to say...

Let’s consider this paragraph that you wrote:
Great. So now that each of their points has been rather trashed, let's take a look at those sources. As has been pointed out by many, such as Barbara Forrest in Creationism's Trojan Horse, creationists have a huge pension[sic] for using outdated material. In fact, creationists (including Intelligent Design proponents) barely use cite sources published in the past 7 years, than they do ones 20 years old or more (p. 43). Meanwhile, reputable scientific journals cite nearly 3 times as many recent sources as they do old ones.
You know what? Shame on Barbara Forrest. She and other leaders in this fight against “creationism” have filled our students minds with so much misinformation that they are no longer able to appreciate good science when they see it. It seems everything we study in the world of science must be squashed to fit within this evolutionary paradigm, and it is sad to see that our students are no longer able to think outside the box. I believe I should confront Babs myself via email and try to figure out just what her problem is. Due to her constant preaching, you did a very poor job of reading through the material I suggested.

It’s pretty obvious that you didn’t follow the links and twice you misread the dates of the citations and stated that they were “horribly outdated”, when in fact they were dated 1990 and 2003. Both were listed as Ibid. citations and neither would be considered “horribly outdated”.

Her suggestion that creationists and ID proponents “barely use cite sources published in the past 7 years” is absolutely outrageous. Goodness, I’ve read endless articles by both creationists and IDists and that is simply not true.

I counted all current dates of the citations in the initial link that I provided you and then checked the dates of the citations in some of the additional links that were referenced on that initial page. I counted approximately 39 citations that were from articles that were published within the last 7 years. I’m surprised you didn’t notice that yourself. But, then again, it doesn’t appear as if you followed the links provided.

Another accusation you expressed was that of “quote mining”. You asserted at least six times that Brown quote mined from various articles in his citations, but you never once confirmed your accusation with evidence from the article cited. You offered one abstract, but you admitted that you didn’t read the article, and you linked to only one article which gave a ~possible~ explanation.

Ya know what I call that? Lazy. If you are going to make accusations like that, you need to back them up with evidence. I spent literally hours reading your post, your links, Brown’s work and every link he offered. I expect others to be thorough as well. And, as far as these “quote mining” accusations go, I’ve mentioned my feelings about this issue before:

As far as the dishonesty accusation, it seems to me that when someone points out something from an article written by an evolutionist that supports the questionable aspects of evolution, Darwinists cry “quote mining” . Evidently, if a Darwin supporter writes a paper offering a possible explanation for something but it’s obvious that what they are offering is speculative, we are not allowed to point out that fact. It’s also interesting that often these papers in regard to Darwinian evolution are rife with phrases like “might”, “probably”, “perhaps”, “seems to be”, but if one brings this up, Darwinists deem them dishonest because they believe that since the author of the paper is offering a possible solution to the problem, that it is being deceptive to pull quotes which obviously support their speculation. Darwinists must realize on some level that their extrapolations of the theory are speculative, though the rest of us are deemed “dishonest” for pointing to these problematic areas.
One other thing you might consider is to be sure you are justified in calling someone a “liar” (that‘s pretty harsh). I was always taught to make that particular insinuation to a person’s face so that they are given the chance to respond to the accusation.

You wrote:
So what's the moral of all this? Speaking from five years of experience looking at creationist material, I'll say this is absolutely nothing shocking. They find a theory they don't like, take an outdated model of it, existing before much of the relevant data was accumulated, and where they do use "current" sources, they're typically out of context quotes.

Let me tell you what the moral of this little exercise is, Jon. Five years isn’t jack squat in comparison to the credentials of Walt Brown. Besides those credentials, he has researched these issues for over 25 years. Before that time, he was an evolutionist! So, before you come out bucking like a bronco next time you consider creationist material, take the time to purge Barbara Forrest, et. al. from your mind and think like a scientist with an open mind to all possibilities. Good grief...

You wrote:
...But since we've now seen just how intellectually bankrupt this source is, I would expect that FTK would discontinue use of such a worthless source. Time will tell of course.
Oh, there is no doubt that I will be using this source again and again until some of you over zealous students get off your high horse and consider thoroughly reading what you so vehemently condemn.

Now, here’s the deal. I’ve no doubt you are going to want to reply to this post, but I’m not interested in going back and forth with you and correcting your reading errors etc. unless you have thoroughly read Brown’s book. If you do not read the whole thing, you are going to miss numerous interrelated issues and it will be useless to carry on dialogue with you. So, if you’d like to talk about these issues further, get Brown’s book and read it. Or, if you can’t stand the thought of paying for something written by a “creationist”, read the entire book on-line. It’s the updated version for the 8th edition to his book so it provides even further interesting information. I think it would be a good exercise for you since you seem to believe that it is your calling to take down “pseudoscience“. You won’t find a better resource for creationist material that Brown’s work. In fact, if you want to borrow my book, I’ll bring it to you there at KU.

If you decide to read the book, write down all your questions and we’ll set up a three-way phone conversation with Dr. Brown so you can question him yourself. He’s quite interesting, and I’ve given him a call several times in the past with questions regarding his work.

Whoo! Okay, I guess I’m done. If you made it to the end of this post, you deserve a prize.

I’m going to go have a good stiff drink...