“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”
When you read about exoplanets – that is, planets orbiting stars other than our own Sun – there isn’t usually photographic evidence for such planets. Their existence, size, and orbit are inferred from variations in light and movement of the host star. There are, however, a small number of exceptions to this – planets for which we have actual photographic evidence.
One such object was a planet called Fomalhaut b, about 25 light years from Earth. This giant planet could be seen as a tiny dot in a series of photographs taken by the Hubble Space Telescope between 2004 and 2008.
Unfortunately, recent and rigorous attempts to find the planet again have proved impossible. The planet was observed to fade and then to disappear. It has become a ghost planet.
Researchers have suggested that the planet was actually no such thing. It was actually a cloud of dust and gas, gradually expanding and fading. The HST just happened to spot it in the early years of the century, as it was at the same size as a gas giant planet like Jupiter.
But what caused this cloud? It seems likely that it might have been caused by a collision between two smaller planets. This raises the question of why God would have caused such an event out in space that has no direct bearing on our lives. God created the universe for His good pleasure, and as we observe it, we should be drawn to worship Him all the more.
Prayer: What is man that You are mindful of Him, Lord? We do not have all the answers, but we thank You and praise You for Your creative power. Amen.
Author: Paul F. Taylor
Ref: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. “Exoplanet apparently disappears in latest Hubble observations.” ScienceDaily, 20 April 2020. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/04/200420165722.htm>. Image: HST photo of Fomalhaut b; NASA – Public Domain.
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