Neutron Star Mergers, Part 2: Evidence for Design


by Hugh RossJuly 19, 2021

In last week’s post, “Neutron Star Mergers, Part 1: Evidence for Creation,” I described how astronomers’ observations of binary neutron star merging events is helping us gain a more accurate and detailed cosmic creation model.1 Their observational results affirm what the Bible has taught for millennia about the origin, history, and structure of the universe.

Analysis of the observational results has more than affirmed the biblically predicted cosmic creation model.2 It has ruled out several alternate models of the universe and alternate laws of physics. It also yields more evidence for the design of the universe and the laws of physics to make life, and human civilization in particular, possible. Some examples follow.

Velocity of Gravity Waves
Comparing the measurements for the arrival times of gravity waves from the neutron star merging event, GW170817, with the arrival time measurements of gamma rays from the gamma ray burst associated with GW170817, provided a constraint on the velocity of gravity waves. These measurements established that the difference between the velocity of light and the velocity of gravity waves was less than 3 x 10-15.3 That is, the velocity of light and the velocity of gravity waves are identical to at least 14 decimal places.

This identity means that scientists can place even greater confidence in the standard cosmic creation model and the standard particle creation model. Both these models critically depend on the velocity of light and the velocity of gravity waves being the same. We can rule out speculations based on a difference between the velocity of light and the velocity of gravity waves.

Other speculated alternatives to standard cosmic and particle creation models likewise were ruled out. These comparative measurements placed much tighter limits on possible violations of Lorentz invariance (the laws of physics are the same for different observers). They provided a new test of the equivalence principle. Lorentz invariance and the equivalence principle are cornerstone features of the known laws of physics, of special relativity and general relativity, and of charge, parity, and time reversal (CPT) symmetry. The stronger affirmations of Lorentz invariance and the equivalence principle provide yet more evidence for the standard cosmic and particle creation models, both of which are consistent with what the Bible has taught (in these texts, for example: Genesis 1:1; Hebrews 11:3; Job 9:8; Psalm 104:2; Isaiah 40:22; Jeremiah 33:25–26Romans 8:20–222 Timothy 1:9Titus 1:2) about the creation and design of the natural realm. In previous articles I have written extensively about what the Bible teaches about the origin, history, and structure of the universe.4

Mass of the Graviton
The standard cosmic and particle creation models and string theory models all predict a zero mass for the graviton, the elementary particle that mediates the force of gravity. Through measurements of the two binary neutron star merger events, astronomers have placed the lowest bound to date on the mass of the graviton. It must be less than 1.76 x 10-23 eV/c2, where eV is an electron volt and c is the velocity of light.5 That is, the graviton is at least 5.33 x 1031 times less massive than a proton or less than 3.14 x 10-59 kilograms.

This upper limit on a possible mass of the graviton is about two times lower than the previous best measured limit. This new limit ranks as another success for the standard cosmic and particle creation models and for what the Bible has taught about creation and design.

Black Hole Mimickers
I feel personally vindicated by the research findings from the two binary neutron star mergers observed so far. When I submitted my paper, “Black Holes as Evidence of God’s Care,”6 to the Religions journal special issue on Christianity and Science: Fresh Perspectives, one of my anonymous peer reviewers claimed that “there is no compelling evidence yet of the existence of black holes.”7 He suggested boson stars as an alternative. In one of my published responses to this peer reviewer, I wrote that after reading all the papers I could find on boson and soliton stars and neutrino balls, “I was struck by how difficult it is to conceptualize such bodies in a way that mimics all the observed features of all the massive, superdense bodies we observe in the universe.”8 I did not write this in my response, but I was also struck by just how difficult it is for such bodies to remain stable for any period of time.

The ringdowns (bunching up of gravity waves that occurs during the last stage of black hole mergers) of gravitational waves observed for all 24 binary mergers where the two bodies comprising each binary are more massive than the highest conceivable mass for a neutron star all perfectly match what physicists expect from black holes operating under general relativity. In the analysis of the observations, astronomers find “no evidence of nontensorial polarizations, or black hole mimickers—exotic compact objects such as boson stars.”9

The lack of evidence for black hole mimickers is yet more good news for the standard cosmic and particle creation models and for what the Bible has taught about creation and design.

Scientific and Theological Future of Gravity-Wave Astronomy
Presently, gravity-wave telescopes have been operating in the states of Washington and Louisiana (LIGO) and in Italy (Virgo). Both LIGO and Virgo are currently undergoing upgrades and will start their fourth observing run in late 2021 or early 2022. Meanwhile, two more gravity-wave telescopes are under construction: one in Japan and one in India. The one in Japan will be ready in time to join LIGO and Virgo for their next observing run.

Instead of just a few merging events detected per year, with the start of the fourth observing run the detection rate of binary black hole and binary neutron star merging events is expected to be over 100 per year.10 Greater instrumental sensitivity means that binary black hole and neutron star mergers will be detected with much higher signal-to-noise ratios and at distances as far away as 12 billion light-years.

The enhanced detection rate and greater sensitivity should yield improved understanding of the birth, history, and death of the most compact massive bodies in the universe, namely neutron stars and black holes. These advances will produce much deeper knowledge of the behavior of dense nuclear matter.

We can look forward to more detailed knowledge and understanding of the creation and history of the universe and how that knowledge and understanding reveals how exquisitely the universe and its various components are designed to make possible the existence of humans and civilization. We can anticipate that the upcoming generation of gravity-wave telescopes will deliver more evidence for the biblical principle (see for example, Job 12:7–10Job 37–39Psalm 8Psalm 104) that the more we learn about the natural realm the more evidence we will uncover for the existence and supernatural handiwork of God.   

Endnotes

  1. Hugh Ross, “Neutron Star Mergers Yield More Evidence for Creation,” Today’s New Reason to Believe (blog), July 12, 2021, https://reasons.org/explore/blogs/todays-new-reason-to-believe/neutron-star-mergers-yield-more-evidence-for-creation.
  2. Hugh Ross and John Rea, “Big Bang—The Bible Taught It First!” Facts for Faith (Quarter 3 2000), 26–32; Hugh Ross, “Does the Bible Teach Big Bang Cosmology?,” Today’s New Reason to Believe (blog), August 26, 2019.
  3. LIGO Scientific Collaboration and Virgo Collaboration, Fermi Gamma-Ray Burst Monitor, and INTEGRAL, B. P. Abbott et al., “Gravitational Waves and Gamma Rays from a Binary Neutron Star Merger: GW170187 and GRB 170817A,” Astrophysical Journal Letters 848, no. 1 (October 20, 2017): id. L13, doi:10.3847/2041-8213/aa920c.
  4. Ross and Rea, “Big Bang—The Bible Taught It First!; Ross, “Does the Bible Teach Big Bang Cosmology?
  5. LIGO Scientific Collaboration, Virgo Collaboration, et al., “Tests of General Relativity with the Binary Black Holes from the Second LIGO-Virgo Gravitational-Wave Transient Catalog,”Physical Review D 103, no. 12 (June 15, 2021): id. 122002.
  6. Hugh Ross, “Black Holes as Evidence of God’s Care,” Religions 12, no.3 (March 2021): id. 201, doi:10.3390/rel12030201.
  7. Ross, “Black Holes as Evidence,” Review Reportshttps://www.mdpi.com/2077-1444/12/3/201/review_report.
  8. Ross, “Black Holes as Evidence.”
  9. Salvatore Vitale, “Gravitational Waves: The First 5 Years of Gravitational-Wave Astrophysics,” Science 372, no. 6546 (June 4, 2021): id. eabc7397, p. 6, doi:10.1126/science.abc7397.
  10. KAGRA Collaboration, LIGO Scientific Collaboration and Virgo Collaboration, B. P. Abbott et al., “Prospects for Observing and Localizing Gravitational-Wave Transients with Advanced LIGO, Advanced Virgo and KAGRA,” Living Reviews in Relativity 21 (September 28, 2020): id. 3, doi:10.1007/s41114-018-0012-9.

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About Will Myers

I am an "Intelligent Design" writer who has the Christian faith. Part of my background is that I have a degree in physics, and have been inducted into the National Physics Honor Society. Sigma Pi Sigma, for life. My interest has lead me into metaphysics, farther into Christianity. Optimum metaphysics becomes religion.
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