After a year of image capturing, many years of planning, and a billion dollars of research spending, the European Space Agency's Planck satellite telescope has produced the first ever image of the entire sky. The Planck "all-sky survey"1 was taken between August 2009 and June 2010 and captured the microwave radiation of the full sky. And with the July 2010 release of this image came grand claims of its significance--most of which are not based on evidence, but on what the claims assume to be true.
Theoretical physicist Michio Kaku told Fox News that the picture depicts "the baby universe when it was only 400,000 years old."2 The central portion of the elliptical projection sky map shows the background radiation of earth's nearby Milky Way galaxy. The mottled edges of the map show similar radiation in distant space, which interests cosmologists who are curious about the makeup of the universe.
The UK's Channel 4 News described this radiation as "the oldest light in the Universe and the remains of the fireball 'Big Bang' from which the Universe was born 13.7 billion years ago."3 But strictly speaking, it is a very low level of microwave radiation--corresponding to 2.7 degrees Kelvin--that pervades outer space and it is extraordinarily uniform no matter where it is observed. In fact, its distribution is far too smooth to be accounted for by the Big Bang's mere 14 billion years of starlight radiating toward the desolate corners of the universe, a devastating issue called the "horizon problem."4
Since there are explanations for the radiation other than it being a signature of the Big Bang, assertions of how the radiation got there should not be confused with the definition of what it is.5
So, how could this image represent a "baby" universe of 400,000 years, and how could the radiation photographed by Planck have been generated 13.7 billion years ago if biblical and scientific data show the universe is only 6,000 or so years old?6
There are scientific solutions to this that involve far fewer assumptions and problems than the Big Bang cosmological model. Two of them rely on Einstein's well-established general relativity theory. Since time is dependent on the matter in its attendant space, vast eons can elapse "out there" in only seconds of earth time.7 This makes distant starlight reaching earth very possible in a universe only thousands of earth years old. And another scientifically and biblically consistent cosmological solution was recently promised.8
The ESA image does capture interesting information that will undoubtedly provide direction for cosmological research. But like similar projects, such as the COBE satellite images that in 1989 showed how uncomfortably smooth the universe's background radiation is, future analyses of this Planck data may likewise prove problematic for adherents of Big Bang cosmology.
The Planck data does not contradict the Bible's timeframe for the age of the cosmos, but secular interpretations of the data do. Thus, separating the interpretation from the data and considering young-world cosmological models are both key to solving the problem of starlight and time.
- Planck unveils the Universe--now and then. European Space Agency press release, July 5, 2010.
- Space Telescope Captures First Image of Universe. Fox News online video. Posted on foxnews.com July 6, 2010, accessed July 8, 2010.
- Space telescope reveals spectacular Universe images. Channel 4 News. Posted on channel4.com July 6, 2010, accessed July 8, 2010.
- Thomas, B. Inflation Hypothesis Doesn't Measure Up to New Data. ICR News. Posted on icr.org January 29, 2009, accessed July 8, 2010.
- For example, Sir Arthur Eddington showed in 1926 that empty space should have a temperature of 3 degrees Kelvin because it is bathed in starlight, whereas one Big Bang-based prediction was that the radiation would be 50 degrees Kelvin. See Williams, A. and J. Hartnett. 2005. Dismantling the Big Bang. Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 127. Also, the radiation could be the remnant of a divine stretching out of the heavens--not from a fiery nugget, but from the shapeless mass of primordial water mentioned in Genesis 1:2.
- Humphreys, D. R. 2005. Evidence for a Young World. Acts & Facts. 34 (6).
- Harwood, M. 2009. How can distant starlight reach us in just 6,000 years? Creation Features. Posted on creation.com January 17, 2009, accessed July 8, 2010.
- Lisle, J. Research at Answers in Genesis. Blog: Dr. Jason Lisle. Posted on answersingenesis.org July 8, 2010, accessed July 9, 2010.
Image Credit: © ESA Web Portal image. Adapted for use in accordance with federal copyright (fair use doctrine) law.
* Mr. Thomas is Science Writer at the Institute for Creation Research.
Article posted on July 16, 2010.