The latest discovery using direct telescope imaging—that is processing actual light spectrum images–has revealed two newly created large planets circling around a newly formed star an amazing 460 light years away from the earth.
This discovery and the knowledge necessary to make it is to me a powerful witness of the Hand of God in our modern world.
Using advanced systems like the Multi Unit Spectroscopic Explorer (MUSE) of the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile, gaps in the disk of matter forming the new star system predicted the two planets’ orbits.[i]
Just How Far Has Astronomy Come Since Pluto’s Discovery in February 18, 1930?
To be able to distinguish between the very faint light from the two exoplanets from the glare of their star at this distance away shows just how miraculous our modern astronomical tools are that have been built based on the scientific knowledge that the Lord has given us.
One valid comparison would be to show how the VLT linked telescopes were able to focus in on this distant solar system whereas the 13 inch Pluto Discovery Telescope in the Lowell observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona only could enable the discovery of Pluto in 1930 by Clyde Tombaugh. The PDS 70 solar system is about 670,000 times further away than the planet Pluto.[ii]
Impossibly Difficult High Wire Acts Above Niagara Falls
The technical difficulty of this scientific feat necessary to discover these exoplanets might also be compared to the difficulty of riding a bicycle on a standard city sidewalk in contrast to the impossibly-difficult high-wire acts demonstrated over Niagara Falls by Charles Blondin starting in 1859.[iii]
Here is a great illustration showing some of the amazing feats that Blondin completed over many years on an eleven-hundred-foot-long, two inches in diameter tightrope between the falls. He did all of these feats while being blown about by the powerful, chaotic wind gusts caused by the falls and in spite of guy ropes every twenty feet to reduce the wind effects and an unavoidable sixty foot change in elevation sag in the tightrope at the rope’s center.[iv]
And, Blondin died from diabetes at age 73—not from a calamitous fall.
It Is Like Unto: Focusing in on a Firefly from 800 Miles Away
The short video on the PDS 70 discovery gave another good, much simpler analogy showing the difficulty of resolving the new planets from the glare of the new star performed by the VLT telescope array.
Zooming in on the light from a single firefly from 840 miles away (Salt Lake City to Seattle) would be hard enough. 2280 fireflies are roughly equivalent to the brightness of about a 60 watt bulb. But then, close by the firefly, place a 1,000 watt lighthouse. It would take about 37,800 fireflies to equal the light from a 1,000 watt lighthouse.[v]
It is truly amazing to be able to synchronize and focus the multiple telescopes to the exact right location and then to process the images and remove the glare from the newly ignited star. And then, detecting the gaps in the photos of the disk of matter that then led to being able to identify the two planets—all from 460 light years away, more than 670,000 times further away than Pluto is from the Sun.[vi]
“Nothing Shall Be Withheld” (D&C 121:28)
A great series of videos that is well worth watching is the PBS series on “Breakthrough: The Ideas that Changed the World.” “The telescope” starts the series and “the smartphone” is another in the series.[vii]
Just like going outdoors away from the city lights and seeing the wonders of the heavens that testify of God and His knowledge and power, studying about these amazing inventions and how they came about will also testify to us of God’s divine guidance in the history of the world.
“Unto what shall I liken these kingdoms, that ye may understand? Behold, all these are kingdoms, and any man who hath seen any or the least of these hath seen God moving in his majesty and power. (D&C 88:46-47)
Please consider studying the 2007 BYU-Idaho devotional entitled “Nothing Shall Be Withheld,” by BYU President and General Authority Merrill Bateman.[viii]
From President Bateman: “The Light of Christ is given to every man and woman and anyone who responds to the Light may be a conduit for secular knowledge. I enjoy Elder Neal A. Maxwell’s description of God’s omniscience:
“God, who knows the beginning from the end, knows, therefore, all that is in between. . .
“Below the scripture that declares that God knows ‘all things’ there is no footnote reading ‘except that God is a little weak in geophysics!’ We do not worship a God who simply forecasts a generally greater frequency of earthquakes in the last days before the second coming of His Son; He knows precisely when and where all these will occur. … there are no qualifiers, only flat and absolute assertions of the omniscience of God.” [emphasis added]
“The Burst of Secular Knowledge Coincident with The Restoration after 1820”
President Bateman explained that many scientists and historians have recognized that “something happened in the early nineteenth century” to change the near zero world economic growth before 1820 to a “prosperity that began flowing in an ever-increasing torrent” after 1820. Great inventions punctuated this prosperity, such as the breakthrough invention of the telegraph in 1844.[ix]
So, just as we celebrated the 200th anniversary of the appearance of the Father and the Son to the Prophet Joseph Smith this past year, why not study, ponder, discuss and note with reverence our daily enjoyment of this “torrent” of knowledge being poured out right now from heaven upon the earth in this the dispensation of the fullness of times?
Why not ponder with faith, with hope and with the powerful testimony of the Holy Ghost, the miracle of living here as His children on the earth–even during the upside-down world of the covid19 pandemic and political and social unrest in the modern world of 2020 and now 2021?
In other words, “count your many blessings—name them one by one—and it will surprise you what the Lord has done.”[x]
[i] “Giant Gap PDS 70’s Protoplanetary Disk May Indicate Multiple Planets,” SciTechDaily.com, September 6, 2019.
“A large international team of astronomers led by Jun Hashimoto (National Astronomical Observatory of Japan) and Ruobing Dong (Princeton University) has used the High Contrast Instrument for the Subaru Next Generation Adaptive Optics (HiCIAO) to observe and examine PDS 70 (Note 1), a young star about 10 million years old with a mass similar to that of the Sun. Images captured from the observations clearly show a giant gap inside the protoplanetary disk, the largest ever found among lower mass stars similar to the Sun. A protoplanetary disk is where planets form, and the gravitational force of newborn planets may account for the huge gap between the inner edge of the disk and the central star. No single planet, regardless of how heavy or efficient it is in its formation, is sufficient to create such a giant gap. The researchers think that the gap in PDS 70’s protoplanetary disk may have resulted from the birth of multiple planets. The high contrast images from the observations allowed the researchers to study the details of the disk, which then enabled them to directly reveal the site of formation of one and possibly more planets. The research team is now attempting to detect those planets.”
This reference also Includes Picture #1
“Figure 1: HiCIAO mounted on the Subaru Telescope captured this near infrared image of the protoplanetary disk around PDS 70. A software mask blocked out the light in the immediate vicinity of the central star. The colors in the image indicate the luminosity of the infrared light; the white area has stronger infrared radiation while that of the bluer area is weaker. The black area near PDS 70, outside of the software mask, is the gap referred to in the text. (Credit: NAOJ).”
“As part of the SEEDS Project, the current team chose to target PDS 70, which is located in the constellation Centaurus; is about 460 light years from Earth; and has a mass 90% that of the Sun. Estimated to be about 10 million years old, this is a very young star relative to the 10 billion year life span of Sun-like stars and the 4.6 billion year age of our Sun. Previous observations of the spectral energy distribution and direct imaging by the Very Large Telescope in Chile suggested the presence of a disk, but were not able to determine the details of its structure.”
RPM Notes and calculation:
PDS 70 distance = 460 light years
Pluto is 4-6 light hours away meaning that 365 * 4 would be about one light year away from the Sun.
PDS 70 is about 670,000 times farther away from the Sun than Pluto.
“How Many Light-Years Away is Pluto?” reference.com. retrieved 11/1/2019.
“Pluto is an object inside of the solar system, and it is therefore considerably less than 1 light-year away; the distance varies from 4.25 to 7.4 light-hours. Pluto’s distance from the Earth varies because both celestial bodies follow elliptical paths around the Sun.”
“Pluto’s distance from the Sun varies from 4.4 billion km at perihelion to 7.29 billion km at its furthest point. Earth has a less elliptical orbit and tends to be 150 million km from the Sun throughout its orbital period. The maximum separation between the two worlds occurs when Pluto is at its aphelion and the Earth is on the other side of the Sun. The closest approach comes when Pluto is at perihelion and the Earth is between it and the Sun. In the first case, the separation is 4.25 billion km, and in the second it is 7.44 billion, or 4.25 to 7.4 light-hours.”
Mike Wall, “Rare Sight! 2 Newborn Alien Planets Spotted Around Distant Star,” Science and Astronomy, space.com, June 3, 2019, picture #0 is in this article.
“PDS 70 is just the second multiplanet system to be directly imaged.”
“PDS 70 is only the second multiplanet system to be directly imaged. Through a combination of adaptive optics and data processing, astronomers were able to cancel out the light from the central star (marked by a white star) to reveal two orbiting exoplanets. PDS 70b (lower left) is four to 17 times more massive than Jupiter, while PDS 70c (upper right) is one to 10 times more massive than Jupiter.(Image: © ESO and S. Haffert (Leiden Observatory))”
“Discoveries of exoplanets,” Wikipedia.org, retrieved 9/6/2019.
“The first confirmation of an exoplanet orbiting a main-sequence star was made in 1995, when a giant planet was found in a four-day orbit around the nearby star 51 Pegasi.”
[ii] “Lowell Observatory,” wikipedia.og, retrieved 9/11/2019.
“located on the Mars Hill campus is the 33-centimeter (13-inch) Pluto Discovery Telescope, used by Clyde Tombaugh in 1930 to discover the dwarf planet Pluto.”
Sarah Gilbert, “Lowell Observatory to Renovate Pluto Discovery Telescope,” January 5, 2017.
“Flagstaff, AZ. – The instrument at Lowell Observatory used by Clyde Tombaugh to discover Pluto will soon undergo renovation. The year-long project, set to begin on January 12, will include restoration of both the historic telescope and the wooden dome that houses it. While the telescope will be removed from the dome during this work, the dome will be open from time to time for public tours as work allows.”
“VLT,” wikipedia.org, Retrieved 9/12/2019
“The Very Large Telescope (VLT) is a telescope facility operated by the European Southern Observatory on Cerro Paranal in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile. The VLT consists of four individual telescopes, each with a primary mirror 8.2 m across, which are generally used separately but can be used together to achieve very high angular resolution. The four separate optical telescopes are known as Antu, Kueyen, Melipal, and Yepun, which are all words for astronomical objects in the Mapuche language. The telescopes form an array which is complemented by four movable Auxiliary Telescopes (ATs) of 1.8 m aperture.
“The VLT operates at visible and infrared wavelengths. Each individual telescope can detect objects roughly four billion times fainter than can be detected with the naked eye, and when all the telescopes are combined, the facility can achieve an angular resolution of about 0.002 arc-second. In single telescope mode of operation angular resolution is about 0.05 arc-second.”
[iii] Karen Abbott, “The Daredevil of Niagara Falls,” smithsonian.com, October 8, 2011.
“During the winter of 1858, a 34-year-old French acrobat named Jean François Gravelet, better known as Monsieur Charles Blondin, traveled to Niagara Falls hoping to become the first person to cross the “boiling cataract.” Noting the masses of ice and snow on either bank and the violent whirls of wind circling the gorge, Blondin delayed the grand event until he would have better weather. He always worked without a net, believing that preparing for disaster only made one more likely to occur. A rope 1,300 feet long, two inches in diameter and made entirely of hemp would be the sole thing separating him from the roiling waters below.”
“By the time he gave his final performance, in 1896, it was estimated that Blondin had crossed Niagara Falls 300 times and walked more than 10,000 miles on his rope. He died of complications from diabetes the following year. In nearly 73 years on this earth, he never had life insurance. No one, he’d always joked, would take the risk.
[iv] Colton Kruse, “Tightrope Daredevil Extraordinaire: the Great Blondin,” ripleys.com, July 24, 2019.
“In 1859, he walked a tightrope spanning the Niagara Gorge and became the first successful tightrope walker to accomplish the stunt. The rope was just two inches wide and spanned a 1,100-foot gap 160 feet above the raging water. Merely walking across wasn’t enough for Blondin though. On his first attempt, he stopped midway to pull up a bottle of wine from a boat below and had a small drink standing above the dangerous waters. Once he completed his crossing, he carried a daguerreotype camera back onto the rope to take a photo of the onlooking crowds. He always performed without nets or safety harnesses, believing they only invited trouble.”
Lloyd Graham, “Blondin the Hero of Niagara,” 2008.
“On Thursday, June 30, 1859, the atmosphere at Niagara Falls was charged with excitement. A slightly built Frenchman, dressed in tights and carrying a long balancing pole, was planning to attempt the impossible—he was going to walk across the terrible gorge of the Niagara River about a mile below the Falls on a slender rope cable, 190 feet above the swift and boiling flood. As they watched in fascination, shading their eyes with their parasols, ladies in crinolines nearly swooned. Strong men in top hats and stocks were tense, for many had wagered large sums on the outcome. Little girls clung to the skirts of their nurses and small boys skylarked. Three hundred thousand people —or was it ten thousand?—held their breath as Jean François Gravelet, better known as Blondin, edged out onto the sloping cable.”
[v] “Firefly,” Wikipedia.org, retrieved 9/12/2019.
“The Lampyridae are a family of insects in the beetle order Coleoptera with over 2,000 described species. They are soft-bodied beetles that are commonly called fireflies or lightning bugs for their conspicuous use of bioluminescence during twilight to attract mates or prey. Fireflies produce a “cold light”, with no infrared or ultraviolet frequencies.”
“How many fireflies would it take to produce the same amount of light a candle or 60W light produce?
“We would need 2280 fireflies to make the same amount of light a 60W light makes.”
How many fireflies would it take to produce the same amount of light a candle or 60W light produce?
A candle is ~13lm (SI for lumen), lumen is the measure of visible light emitted by something.
A firefly produces .325lm or 1/40 that of a candle. If we take that into account 40 fireflies produces the same amount of light a candle produces. Which would make this wrong if we assume torchbugs are identical to fireflies.
A 60W light is around 740lm.
Using the candles lumen as a base, 13lm, we’ll divide it by 740, 740/13 is 56.923 rounding up to 57 for easy math. Replicating the 40 fireflies for 1 candle 57 more times gives us 2280 (57 x 40). We would need 2280 fireflies to make the same amount of light a 60W light makes.
[vi] “Firefly,” Wikipedia.org. retrieved 11/1/2019.
“Lighthouse,” Wikipedia.org, retrieved 11/1/2019.
[vii] “Breakthrough,” PBS documentaries, 11/1/2019.
[viii] Merrill J. Bateman, mormonwiki.com, retrieved 6/15/2020.
Merrill J. Bateman, “Nothing Shall be Withheld,” May 22, 2007.
“In response to Joseph’s prayer came one of the most remarkable revelations of this dispensation, the 121st Section of the Doctrine and Covenants. First, Joseph was told that his adversity and afflictions would be ‘but a small moment’ (D&C 121:7). He was assured that those who wreaked vengeance on the saints would receive their just dues.
“All Knowledge to be Revealed
“And then the Lord told Joseph that great knowledge was about to be revealed to the earth through the power of the Holy Ghost. The scripture states: ‘God shall give unto you knowledge by his Holy Spirit . . . that has not been revealed since the world was until now’ (D&C 121:26). The Lord went on to say that it would be ‘A time to come in the which nothing shall be withheld, . . . All thrones and dominions, principalities and powers, shall be revealed . . . And also, if there be bounds set to the heavens or to the seas, or to the dry land, or to the sun, moon, or stars—All the times of their revolutions, all the appointed days, months, and years, . . . and all their glories, laws, and set times, shall be revealed in the days of the dispensation of the fulness of times’ ” (D&C 121:28-31).
“The Lord makes clear that in the last days, the dispensation of the fulness of times, all things will be revealed. (See D&C 101:23-34.) All knowledge includes the laws that govern the earth as well as those which are spiritual in nature. The Apostle Paul prophesied 1800 years earlier “That in the dispensation of the fulness of times” the Lord will “gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth” (Ephesians 1:10).”
[ix] “electrical telegraph,” wikipidea.org, retrieved 6/15/2020.
“Morse system,” Wikipedia.org, retrieved 6/15/2020.
“Morse Code and the Telegraph,” History.com, June 6, 2019.
“Developed in the 1830s and 1840s by Samuel Morse (1791-1872) and other inventors, the telegraph revolutionized long-distance communication. It worked by transmitting electrical signals over a wire laid between stations. In addition to helping invent the telegraph, Samuel Morse developed a code (bearing his name) that assigned a set of dots and dashes to each letter of the English alphabet and allowed for the simple transmission of complex messages across telegraph lines. In 1844, Morse sent his first telegraph message, from Washington, D.C., to Baltimore, Maryland; by 1866, a telegraph line had been laid across the Atlantic Ocean from the U.S. to Europe. Although the telegraph had fallen out of widespread use by the start of the 21st century, replaced by the telephone, fax machine and Internet, it laid the groundwork for the communications revolution that led to those later innovations.”
[x] “Aaronic Priesthood choir,” General Conference, April 2019.
An Aaronic Priesthood Choir from Stakes in Layton sings, “Count Your Blessings.”
April 2019 General Conference.