Star and Planet Formation

Star and Planet Formation and the Webb Telescope
Webb image of the Tarantula Nebula star-forming region

Yesterday, we discussed the new information about the construction and size of the cosmos we are learning from the James Webb Space Telescope. The Webb telescope shows us the size of God’s physical creation as NASA continues to pump out new discoveries and better understandings of star and planet formation. Search “James Webb Telescope” on your computer and see for yourself.

One of the better understandings from recent Webb telescope data is what it takes to make a planet like Earth. The conventional understanding of planet formation was that as stars formed, they threw off material that gravity pulled together, forming planets. The Webb telescope has the resolving power and the infrared light-gathering ability to observe planet formation in different stages.

The first step in planet formation is for the star to actively produce elements needed for terrestrial planet formation. Quiet stars do not make the necessary elements since heavier elements will move toward the star’s center, not outwards. The star must spin fast enough to throw out the required heavy materials. That means gaseous planets like Jupiter are much more common in the cosmos than terrestrial planets like Earth.

The heavier elements in a planet come from exploding stars. That means planets will be more likely in certain types of galaxies, and galaxies have an evolutionary history, changing with time. The Webb telescope actually observes the changes in galaxies and star and planet formation. The creation process is still active, and new planets are being formed as we watch.

In manufacturing, we know that a machine is designed to take raw materials and mold and shape them into the desired final product. Years ago, I worked for a man who designed and built such machines, and his wisdom and creativity were incredible to watch. This designer didn’t use a blueprint or follow a manual. He had the skill to comprehend what the final machine would look like and what it would do.

As we watch star and planet formation take place, we see the wisdom and creativity of God. The writer of Proverbs wrote, “O you simple ones, understand wisdom and you foolish ones, be of an understanding heart” (Proverbs 8:5). The Webb telescope allows us to see the wisdom of the Creator in ways we have never imagined.

— John N. Clayton © 2024