New Light from Binary Stars
Twinkle, twinkle, little . . .
Unless youʼve been living in a cave
for the past decade, you’ve heard about
the popular television competition
Dancing with the Stars. Everyone loves
a star. But the real stars are in the
nighttime sky, and most of them have
a dancing partner, too.
When you stare up at a twinkling
point of light in the night sky, you
might actually be looking at a system
of stars, not just a single one. Systems
of two stars, binary stars, orbit one
another on a continual basis. More
than 60% of the single points of light we observe at night are multiple star
systems. Some are three or more stars,
but such groups are usually unstable.
As a professional stellar astronomer,
my focus for the past 30 years has been
the observation and analysis of binary
stars that regularly eclipse each other
(one star periodically passes in front of
The variation in a binary star’s
apparent brightness during an eclipse
reveals helpful details about both stars,
including their temperature, atmosphere,
geometry, mass, and much
more. Without binary stars, we could
only guess what the nature of stars is!
We find that they are suns similar to
our own, burning in the heavens!
As a creationist who believes God
created the universe only a few thousand
years ago, I have discovered that
these fascinating two-in-one stars
shed light on another aspect of our
vast, mysterious universe. These stars
must be young . . . a finding that undermines
deep time theories of binary
Older Than the Stars?
Eclipsing binary stars are favorite
targets of professional and amateur
astronomers because their characteristics
change so rapidly. Spots
and other distortions—and even the
time needed to complete an orbit (the
orbital period)—vary fast enough to
be observed well within the lifetime
of a single observer, usually within
months, years, or decades.
This constant change is surprising,
however, if the universe is 13.8 billion
years old and wearing down. Many
of these changes should no longer be
taking place or should be rarely or
never seen by a single observer. This
hints that something is wrong with
dating schemes that indicate the universe
is so old.
Contrary to the
astronomers, we have
observed that short-period
much faster than the
big bang allows.
Here’s the problem specifically. It
involves binary stars with stars like
our sun (stars with magnetic activity—which cause the dark spots on the sun’s
surface; most stars in the heavens are this type). When they orbit each other,
a continuous change occurs.
As these stars dance together, they
embrace tighter and tighter until their
atmospheres combine and they are
virtually indistinguishable. When they
share a common atmosphere, they
are called contact binaries. These are
believed to be the “senior citizens” of
the universe, requiring billions of years
to reach this elderly condition. In fact,
evolutionary astronomers believe that
many contact binaries are in excess of
10 billion years old. Thatʼs nearly the
age of the universe proposed in the big
bang theory, which claims that the cosmos
expanded from a “singularity”over
the past 13.8 billion years.
These long ages are based on
assumptions, not observations, about
the evolution of star systems. What if
these assumptions are wrong? What if
observations could prove that binary
stars collapse more quickly into contact
stars than assumed?
If the change truly is fast, then the
big bang theory would be wrong. Since
most binaries with sun-like stars
formed fairly early in the history of the
universe, a large percentage should
have become elderly contact binaries.
But recent research indicates that
the change really is fast. Our galaxy
is filled with billions and billions of
young, vibrant binary stars, which are
still dancing together at a distance. So
God must have created them recently!
Here’s how it works. As a sun-like star
spins, protons (in the form of plasma)
escape along the star’s magnetic field
lines. In the process, they carry away
the star’s spin or angular momentum,
much as spinning skaters slow down
when they spread their arms outward.
Over time, fast-rotating, magnetically
active stars become slow-rotating,
less active stars like our present sun,
which rotates only once every 25 days.
This process is called magnetic braking.
It happens in binaries also (except
Kepler’s law tells us they spin up—the orbit becomes smaller and the
During the past 29 years, my students
and I have been observing
binaries undergoing loss of angular
momentum. From these observations
we have obtained the average rate
that their orbital periods decrease.
I have surveyed the scientific literature
to gather information on
124 binaries with a wide range of
Contrary to the proposals of
the evolutionary astronomy community,
we document that the
observed loss of angular momentum
is much faster among the
short-period binaries (rapid dual
stars that orbit every 20 days
or less). At this rate, they could
remain as separate stars only
55–250 million years (80 million years
on average) before collapsing into
a contact binary. The top lifespan
of 250 million years is at most only
1.8% (0.018) of the 13.8 billion years
required by the big bang. So something
is clearly wrong.
The astronomy community is starting
to notice this discrepancy. A 2009
paper in the Publications of the Astronomical
Society of Japan noted that the
rate of orbital decay of binaries is “1–2
orders of magnitude faster” than theory
predicts. Although our estimate is
2–3 orders of magnitude faster (that’s
around 400 times faster), the paper
confirms our basic findings.
This finding is still a lot more than
6,000 years, but it is only a maximum
possible lifespan. The orbits could
decay in less than six days under
certain conditions. If you take into
account the unique physics at play
during God’s creation of the universe,
time may have passed faster at greater
distances from earth. (But that is a
different topic for another day!) Much
of the orbital decay that we observe
today in binary stars could have taken
place during Creation Week, following
the creation of the first stars on Day
Four. This effectively collapses the
250 million (not 13.8 billion) years to
within the six days of creation.
It appears that binaries (at least
solar types—which comprise most of
the stars in the universe) began their
lives well detached, but their orbits
are quickly decreasing through magnetic
braking. Since our galaxy is still
filled with rapidly rotating stars, the
universe can’t be 13.8 billion years old.
Otherwise, all of the binary stars would
now be contact binaries or single stars
(contact binaries that have coalesced
into single stars). Instead, we can see
that the universe is still young!
If we want to know the truth about
God’s universe, we need to begin our
investigation with the truths revealed
in God’s Word: “
In six days the LORD” (Exodus 20:11).
made heaven and earth, the sea, and
all that in them is
and professor of physics and astronomy at Emmanuel
College. He is the author of well over 150 journal articles
and abstracts published in professional journals.
https://answersingenesis.org/astronomy/stars/new-light-binary-stars/ This article originally appeared on answersingenesis.org