Reasons to Believe

Pulsars in Ultracompact Binaries

Two of the strongest and most compelling scientific evidences for the biblically predicted big bang creation model1 include the continuous expansion of the universe and the reliability of Einstein's theory of general relativity in describing the dynamics of bodies within the universe. Both pieces of evidence establish a cosmic singularity beginning; that is, an actual origin of matter and energy and of the space-time dimensions along which matter and energy are distributed. Thus, they also support the notion of a causal Agent beyond space and time who creates the universe of matter, energy, space, and time (see here).2

Astrophysicists eager to avoid any conclusion involving a transcendent causal Agent have proposed alternatives to continuous cosmic expansion and the reliability of general relativity to describe cosmic dynamics. However, today no astronomer can rationally deny that the universe has continuously expanded over cosmic history. The evidence for it is overwhelming.3 Likewise, support for the reliability of general relativity remains firm.4 Four different binary neutron star systems provide the strongest confirmation of general relativity (see here and here). They affirm the theory's reliability to better than a trillionth of a percent precision.

In each case the four star systems all involve two neutron stars manifesting the same mass. While this similarity effectively rules out most alternatives to the biblically predicted big bang creation model, there is one class of alternate models that is only weakly discriminated against by the binary neutron star systems: the Brans-Dicke gravity models (see here). Thus, in this case skeptics of biblical creation have had a possibly open window of opportunity for naturalistic explanations of cosmic features. Though the best existing models for the observed oblateness of the Sun have ruled out the Brans-Dicke models, those refutations have not been based on simple, assumption-free physics.

Such a refutation is now possible thanks to the recent discovery by the Rossi X-Ray Timing Explorer (RXTE) satellite of five accreting millisecond x-ray pulsars (pulsing neutron stars) in ultracompact binary systems. Small mass companions closely orbit each of these five pulsars. These particular characteristics are significant in that the greater the mass ratio between the pulsar and its companion, the more discriminating is the test against the Brans-Dicke models. Similarly, the shorter the orbital period for the pulsar-companion system, the more discriminating test one achieves.

The system 4U 1820-30 shows particular promise for refuting Brans-Dicke models because a 0.067 solar mass companion is in an 11-minute orbit about the pulsar. Astronomer Dimitrios Psaltis of Sabanci University in Turkey developed a set of calculations to demonstrate that observations of the rate of change in the orbital period of the companions about all five accreting millisecond x-ray pulsars, and about 4U 1820-30 in particular, soon will produce the most stringent and most rigorous constraints on Brans-Dicke gravity models.5

Such powerful constraints will give astronomers and the rest of humanity even more proof that the biblically predicted big bang creation model is correct and that the God of the Bible indeed created the universe and exquisitely crafted it for the specific benefit of the human species.

  1. Hugh Ross, The Creator and the Cosmos 3rd ed. (Colorado Springs, NavPress, 2001), 23-9.
  2. Ibid., 31-67, 99-108, 169-74.
  3. Ibid., 40-67.
  4. Ibid., 102-8.
  5. Dimitrios Psaltis, "Constraining Brans-Dicke Gravity with Accreting Millisecond Pulsars in Ultracompact Binaries," Astrophysical Journal 688 (December 1, 2008): 1282-87.

Subjects: Big Bang, Origin of the Universe

Dr. Hugh Ross

Reasons to Believe emerged from my passion to research, develop, and proclaim the most powerful new reasons to believe in Christ as Creator, Lord, and Savior and to use those new reasons to reach people for Christ. Read more about Dr. Hugh Ross.