A Brief Stellar History
A Summary of Creation and Catastrophe Astronomy
by Barry Setterfield
PART I The Stars
Two Main Types of Stars
A Clue From the Scriptures
The Ages of the Two Populations
When the Population I Stars Formed
Stellar 'Building Blocks'
The Variable Lightspeed (Vc) Model and Stellar Processes
The Stellar Power-house
Dealing With Rapid Stellar Inflation
The Appearance of Stars
The Redshift/Distance Relationship
PART II The Solar System
A. Meteorites and Asteroids
The Types of Meteorites
The Types of Asteroid
The Origin of Meteorites and Asteroids
The Role of Radioactive Heating
Important Events Recorded by Planet Y and its Moon
Dating the Break-up of Planet Y and its Moon
B. The Inner Planets
A Brief History of Mars
A Brief History of Our Moon
A Brief History of Venus
A Summary For Mercury
A Brief History of the Earth
PART I The Stars
The night sky is bedecked with the jewels of the stars, resplendent in their variety of colour, for "one star differs from another in glory" just as the Bible insists. Not only do their colours vary, but also their masses, but usually within a set range. There is a reason for this. A star is a sphere of gas, which ordinarily would contract under its own weight were it not for the pressure of both the gases and the radiation it produces. In order to balance the forces involved, the majority of stars range between 1/4 to 100 times the mass of the sun. If the mass is too much greater, the core temperature becomes so high that the resultant nuclear reactions set up a condition that may cause the star to explode before any significant ageing occurs. Thus super-massive stars are rare.
Sir Arthur Eddington suggested [The Internal Constitution of the Stars, p.20] that a star might be considered to be two bodies superposed: a material body of atoms and electrons, and an aetherial body of radiation. He pointed out that if there were no interaction between these two bodies, the store of radiation in the sun would dissipate within a short time. However, because it is tied to the material body of gas with its electrons and atoms by the process of absorption and emission, the radiation diffuses away at a slow rate. That is to say the factor that resists the outward flow of radiation is the opacity, or "opaqueness" of the stellar material. Thus the radiation generated in a star's core is imprisoned and slowly released over a period of time. Interestingly, the Genesis 1 account literally states that the stars were to be "light-holders," or had been designed to hold light, and Psalm 74:16 states that "God has prepared the light AND the sun."
The Two Main Types of Stars
Broadly speaking, there are two main types of stars in our Galaxy, namely the "old" or Population II stars, and the "young" or Population I stars. It is true that there are gradational types in between, some of which may have been cannibalised from our Galaxy's nearby satellites when they orbited through or near our Galaxy's disk and were captured. However, the existence of two main Populations is a useful starting point for any discussion. If the basic differences between these two main Populations can be accounted for, it will become more apparent where the gradational types fit into the broad picture.
The "young" or Population I stars, like our Sun, have a relatively high "metal," or heavy element content, such as carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, iron, etc, (up to 3%), and generally inhabit the spiral arms of our Galaxy. The largest stars of this type are massive, brilliant, hot blue giants, which cause the spiral arms of distant galaxies to appear predominantly blue. By contrast, the "old" or Population II stars are metal poor (0.1%), and can be found in the halo, hub and disk of our Galaxy, and in most globular clusters around it. The largest stars of this type are the cool red giants with vast, tenuous outer layers, which contrasts with their highly condensed cores. These red giants cause the hubs of spiral galaxies to take on a reddish tint.
An overview is given below of one of several possible models that may account for the main stellar groupings and their features. It is based on the evidence for changing light-speed, c, as presented in an August 1987 report for SRI International and Flinders University entitled The Atomic constants, Light and Time, and major paper online which summarizes the last ten years of research..
A Clue From the Scriptures
From the Scriptural record of Genesis 1:14, it is apparent that our Sun started shining, along with the other stars that "give light upon the earth," midway through the 4th Day of Creation Week. This statement is in broad agreement with astronomical observation since the Sun and most other stars in our stellar neighbourhood, which give light upon the earth, are spiral arm stars. As such, they classify as the "young" or Population I stars. Broadly speaking, this indicates that the time of formation of many Population I objects was on Day 4.
However, the question then arises as to when the "old" or Population II stars were formed. The answer probably appears in the book of Job, when the Almighty personally instructed His suffering servant in these matters. There in chapter 38:4-7 the Lord Himself asked Job, "Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?" The conjunction 'AND' is usually used Scripturally to separate two things which differ, so the 'sons of God', and the 'morning stars' are separate entities. Furthermore, this is not a case of poetic 'parallel structure' in which both lines have essentially the same meaning since the Alexandrian Septuagint version, which was translated from the original Hebrew into Greek by Jewish scholars reads as follows: "Where were you when I laid the corner-stone of the earthwhen the [first] stars were made, and all my angels praised me with a loud voice?" Taken at face value, it seems from these statements that the 'morning stars' had already started shining when the foundation of the earth was laid on the 1st Day.
For the purposes of this discussion, then, let us consider the 'morning stars' to be the 'old' stars that were created very early on Day 1. On this basis, then, the Scripture speaks of two main periods of star making: the 'morning stars', which are the 'old' or Population II objects made on Day 1, and the Population I or spiral arm stars like our Sun on Day 4, which are the 'young' stars.
The Ages of the Two Populations
A study of the Thorium to Neodymium ratio in stars like our sun has concluded that the minimum age of the sun and similar Population I stars was 9.6 billion atomic years, with a maximum of 11.3 billion atomic years [Nature, 328, pp.127-131, 9 July, 1987]. From these figures, a good average age for the sun would be about 10.5 billion atomic years. This view finds some support from the fact that the age of the oldest events recorded in Moon rocks ranged from 5.4 billion, through 7 billion, and up to 8.2 billion atomic years [Science, 167, pp.479-480, 557, 30 January, 1970]. In similar fashion, a recent study of Population II stars using the Uranium to Thorium ratio has indicated that the oldest stars in our galaxy have an age of 12.5 ± 3 billion atomic years [Cayrel et al., Nature, 409, p. 691, 8 February, 2001]. Earlier work based on Thorium and Europium abundances suggested 15.2 ± 3.7 billion atomic years [Cowan et al., Astrophysical Journal, 480, p. 246, 1997]. Even though the limits of error are larger, the data from this 1997 study suggest that the actual value should be at the higher end of the range indicated by the more precise 2001 study. When further studies are completed, it may be expected that results may converge to a figure somewhere around 14.5 billion atomic years, which would accord with data from stellar theory [Riess et al., arXiv:astro-ph/9805201v1, 15 May, 1998]. The difference in atomic age between the two main Populations of stars is thus about 4 billion atomic years.
The astronomical data indicate that light-speed dropped from a maximum of about 8 x 1011 times its current value near the beginning of Day 1, when the Population II stars were formed, down to about 1.3 X 107 times its current value midway through Day 4, when the Population I stars started shining. Using these figures, calculation reveals that over this 3.5 days period the Population II stars aged 3.83 billion atomic years. A simpler calculation can be performed with the same result by taking the average value for light-speed over that period, namely 4 X 1011 times its current value, instead of considering it as a declining quantity. This means that the atomic clock was effectively ticking off an average of 4 X 1011 days during each Day of Creation Week until halfway through Day 4. Consequently, the oldest Population II stars, the morning stars that started shining at the beginning of Day 1, had 3.5 days of ageing with light-speed, c, averaging some 4 X 1011 times faster than now. This totals an atomic equivalent of 1.4 X 1012 days or 3.83 billion atomic years of ageing beyond the age of the sun and similar stars. This is in good accord with the radiometric data.
The total radiometric ages of the Population I and II stars on this variable light-speed (Vc) model will also include the remainder of the burning from Day 4.5 down to the present on the rest of the curve which adds an extra 10.68 billion atomic years. Consequently, the age of the sun and Population I objects will be near 10.68 billion atomic years, while the Population II objects will be an additional 3.83 billion, which takes them up to about 14.5 billion atomic years old. This is a concordant result for the age of both the main stellar Populations on the Vc model.
When the Population I Stars Formed
On this model, the Population I stars started shining when c was about 1.3 X 107 times its current value. This gives a redshift of z = 2.015, and is in accord with the observational evidence which comes from starburst galaxies. In them, a massive burst of star formation is occurring, and newly formed, brilliant Population I blue giants are the prominent component in these objects. The star formation rate density "appears to peak around z = 1.5 with the most vigorous evolution between z = 1 and z = 3". Careful observation has revealed that there is an underlying older stellar population (Population II) in these starburst galaxies upon which this massive star formation episode is being superimposed. For a full discussion, based on Hubble Space Telescope NICMOS imaging, see the 2001 paper by Bunker et al.
It has also been discovered that, as distance or redshift is increased, the star formation rate rises to a peak about z = 1.5 to z = 2 and that at higher redshifts the activity stabilises and plateaus out rather than continuing to increase [see the presentation by R. I. Thompson (Steward Observatory, Arizona), "Star Formation in the Northern HDF" at the AAS 199th meeting Session 24.07, January 7th 2002]. The graph of this star-forming activity with redshift is known as a "Madau plot" after Madau et al. who published a key paper on this matter in May 1998 [Astrophysical Journal, Vol. 498, p.106]. This was subsequently updated by Steidel et al. in July 1999 [Astrophysical Journal, Vol. 519:1, pp. 1-17]. As we go back in time, this latter paper concludes "that the onset of substantial star formation in galaxies might occur at z greater than 4.5." In other words, Steidel et al. suspect that the formation rate of young blue giant Population I stars "switches on" at a redshift greater than z = 4.5 and then drops off around z = 2 or 1.5 as earlier noted. As the most distant confirmed starburst galaxy lies at a redshift of z = 5.74 [Hu et al., Astrophysical Journal, Vol. 522, L9, 1999], this conclusion is substantiated. A fuller discussion of these matters was undertaken in 1999 by Illingworth and published in Astrophysics and Space Science, 269/270, pp. 165-181. Note that some initial reports of galaxies at higher redshifts have been largely discredited [Stern et al., astro-ph/0012037].
On astronomical theory, a redshift of 2 corresponds to an era about 11 billion years ago. From the foregoing discussion this redshift also marks the time when the dramatic star forming activity starts to decline. As the radiometric age for the bulk of Population I objects is also about 11 billion years as noted above, this gives some concordance between the two dating systems. In addition, there is concordance with the Vc model since a redshift of z = 2 on this approach gives an age of 10.68 billion atomic years, by which time the Population I stars were shining.
Stellar 'Building Blocks'
In support of this timing, it should also be noted that the numbers of "peculiar" galaxies and unusually shaped systems rise significantly as redshifts increase from z = 1 out to z = 3 and beyond [Bunker et al., op. cit.]. These peculiar systems claim attention in the Hubble Deep Field imaging because of the formation of brilliant blue giant stars in them. In some cases in these peculiar systems there is no evidence of any underlying older stellar population or host galaxy. Where this is happening, it is possible that we have a "primeval galaxy candidate" [Bunker et al., op. cit., Figure 4] that may be forming a small or irregular system similar to some of the satellite galaxies in our Local Group. In a similar study of 24 star-forming galaxies between redshifts of 2 and 4.5 using ground based equipment, Lowenthal et al. noted another possible option. They concluded that some of "These high-redshift objects are likely to be the low-mass, starbursting building blocks of more massive galaxies seen today." [Astrophysical Journal, Vol. 481, p. 673, May 1997].
The Variable Lightspeed (Vc) Model and Stellar Processes.
As may be inferred from the foregoing discussion, the Vc model accepts the usual mechanism for the ageing of the stars, and the consequent appearance of the various stars is explicable in terms of known processes. The only difference on this model is that, for most stars, this ageing process was accelerated during the first four days of Creation Week due to high light-speed values, after which the activity dramatically declined and then tapered off at a redshift around 2 just as observed. The initial fast rate of burning supplied a store of radiation within each star's layers that has been slowly escaping ever since. Thus, the more massive the star, the hotter its interior, and the faster it burnt its nuclear fuel, causing the star to rapidly inflate with radiation, and at the same time giving it a characteristic appearance. These processes need to be examined now in more detail.
The Stellar Power-house
It can be shown for conditions of changing light-speed, c, that gas pressure, radiation pressure, and the inward pull of gravity remain unchanged if all other factors are unchanged. These are important considerations for a star's structure. The radiation and gas pressures tend to expand the star, while gravitational attraction tends to collapse it. It is normal for these forces to be in equilibrium, unless the star has developed an instability, which may cause it to pulsate like the Cepheid variables. However, there are two key factors that are variable for a star in a changing c scenario. The first of these is the radiant energy of a star that is generated in its core. The second is the conditions under which this energy has to battle its way to the surface through the star's material, since the rate at which this energy is released is dependent upon the stellar opacity.
As demonstrated here, the reaction rate within stellar cores is proportional to c. In addition, there is a factor of c in the luminosity equation for stars. However, these two items, which make the luminosity proportional to c2, are precisely offset by the increased opacity of the star, which makes the luminosity proportional to 1/c2. From this it can be shown that a star's total luminosity remains unchanged as c varies. However, with the high rate of injection of energy from stellar cores during Creation Week, and gradually diminishing thereafter, the stage is set for every star to rapidly acquire its physical characteristics.
Dealing With Rapid Stellar Inflation
There are two items that need to be raised as a result. The first is the situation with regard to the pressure within the star that this rapid radiation influx would produce. Importantly, Harwit and others have shown that "any appreciable deviation from pressure equilibrium leads to a [stellar] readjustment that takes no more than about an hour." [Astrophysical Concepts, p.310]. It may therefore be concluded that, as stars rapidly inflated with radiation during Creation Week, they swiftly came to an appropriate pressure balance. However, as Hoyle has pointed out for similar conditions in stars generally, this balance may possess a dynamical character so the star might oscillate or vibrate about the new position of balance [Frontiers of Astronomy, p. 128]. Interestingly, God's comment in Job 38:7 that described the morning stars as 'singing' is a translation of the Hebrew word RANAN which literally means to stridulate or vibrate. It may therefore be alluding to this physical process, which many of the most massive Population II stars might experience because of the extremely rapid influx of radiation early in Creation Week. This contrasts with the more leisurely influx rate for Population I stars as lightspeed dropped with time.
The second item concerns the establishment of a stable temperature gradient within a star. When radiative transport of energy is too slow to maintain thermal equilibrium, a temperature gradient is generated that is sufficient to give rise to rapid convective motion. Harwit has shown that, even today, an excess gradient of only one millionth of the total gradient is sufficient to ensure transfer of energy through a star's convective zone in a time approximating to one month. For higher excess gradients, the equations show that the time to transfer this energy by convection would be less [op. cit., p.316, 329]. As each star rapidly inflated with energy, it might thus be expected that this convective process dominated stellar interiors allowing a stable temperature gradient to be rapidly established. This convection process is still visible on the sun today as its gases boil up to the surface in cells called 'granules' that are about 1,000 kilometres across. Hoyle and Schwarzschild have suggested that "sound waves are generated by the moving gases: the granules make a noise!" [Frontiers of Astronomy, p.115]. If this suggestion is ever proven to be correct, this may be an additional reason why the word used by the Creator to describe the 'morning stars' could also be translated as 'singing.'
The Appearance of Stars
Preliminary calculations have been performed based on core temperatures for a given stellar mass, and the resultant energy injected during Creation Week. They reveal that stellar characteristics can generally be accounted for, including the vast, cool, extended atmospheres of the red giant stars, or the more compact internal structure of stars like our sun. These initial calculations also suggest that stars like our sun may have core temperatures today that are a little lower than currently estimated. This is in agreement with some solar oscillation data. Furthermore, the slightly lower nuclear reaction rate that this would entail may also result in a partly reduced neutrino flux. In view of these developments, it seems possible to account for the general appearance of the two main Populations of stars on a contracted time-scale.
In a Biblical context, questions have sometimes been asked regarding the origin of the light that illuminated the earth on the first Day of Creation Week in response to the Divine command "Let there be light." To find a likely answer, we only need turn to the frontiers of the cosmos where we are looking at objects as they appeared at a time near the origin of the universe. In those distant regions of space we discover that we are in the realm of the quasars. These are among the most brilliant objects in the universe with many ranging from 100 up to 1000 times brighter than a normal galaxy.
These quasars, each of which is powered by a super-massive black-hole, inhabit the centres of galaxies. It has been found that the mass of the central black-hole powering the quasar is always about 0.2% of the mass of the galactic nucleus. Currently, some astronomers think that these central supermassive black-holes formed over a long time-scale. However, this 0.2% relationship has caused other astronomers consider that they have formed rapidly "through processes associated with the initial formation of galaxies" [ibid]. Indeed, Silk and Rees state, "The formation of massive black holes may precede the epoch that characterises the peak of galaxy formation" [Astronomy and Astrophysics Vol. 331, p. L1-L4, March 1998]. In other words, in terms of galaxy formation, these central supermassive black-holes and their resulting quasars are among the first objects to form.
Supporting this contention is the observational fact that quasar numbers increase with distance until they peak around z = 2.5 [Shaver et al., Nature 384, p. 449, 1996]. Their luminosities also tend to increase out to that distance. Later work has confirmed this trend [ibid], as quasars are now known out to a redshift of 6.28. Both quasar numbers and their luminosity tend to plateau at distances beyond z = 2.5.
The quasar light comes from the huge disk of swirling, ionised gas that rapidly rotates around the equator of the black hole. Some illumination also comes from the accompanying polar jets. An outer rotating toroid of material probably extends beyond the inner disk. As gas particles swirl towards the central hole, they lose the gravitational energy that is ultimately converted to heat, light and X-rays. In fact, Chandra X-ray telescope data indicate that at least 75% of the X-ray background radiation has come from quasars. Because the electromagnetic properties of the vacuum were different when lightspeed was higher, these X-rays would be far less damaging than they are today.
In order to explain the origin of the intense light from quasars, recent work indicates that looping magnetic field lines connect the disk of gas to the central black-hole. Because of differential rotation, each magnetic field line tied to the gyrating black-hole spins around faster than the end anchored in the disk. This magnetic tension slows the black-hole's spin and imparts energy to the disk which causes the ions of gas there to glow more brightly [Science News, Vol. 160, p.277, 3 Nov. 2001]. With the passing of time, the brilliant activity gradually died down, leaving a more quiescent black hole at the centre of most galaxies, which is what we see at the centre of our own Milky Way galaxy. The various forms of active galactic nuclei (AGN) are considered by some astronomers to be these same objects viewed from different directions, since any outer toroid of material would block a direct view of the light-producing region when viewed from certain angles.
Since our solar system is about 30,000 light years from the centre of our galaxy, the brilliant illumination from the quasar there would supply the directional light during the first few days of Creation Week before the sun lit up. This intense burst of light would appear to come from the direction of the constellation Sagittarius. Since light-speed halfway through Day 1 was about 6.8 X 1011 faster than now, it would take light about 1.4 seconds to reach us from the quasar at the centre of our galaxy. Today, it takes approximately that long to send a light signal from the earth to the Moon.
The behaviour of quasars introduces another aspect of the topic. They are one of four examples of astronomical object whose properties change with redshift or distance in an important way. Two others besides quasars have been introduced above, namely starburst galaxies and unusual systems. Each of these objects indicates that, around a redshift z = 2, some kind of change has occurred. These four examples help determine which of several likely models is adopted. First, the numbers and luminosity of quasars rise with increasing redshift until they peak around z = 2 and then plateau at higher redshifts. Second, the star formation rate in starburst galaxies also rise with distance until they peak around z = 1.5 to 2 and then plateau at higher z values. Third, the numbers of small, peculiar or unusual galaxies that may be either the building blocks of larger systems, or small satellite galaxies in the process of formation, increase dramatically from a redshift of z = 1 to z = 3.
The fourth category of object to be considered is the Type Ia supernovae. The output of light from these explosions has a characteristic behaviour. At their peak, they have a known intrinsic brightness, which falls off with time in a specific and known way. As a consequence, it is possible to use them as distance indicators. Using ground based equipment it has been possible to examine a number of such supernovae from redshifts of about 0.3 out to 1.2 and hence compare the behaviour of redshift with distance. The most distant objects in that range have been somewhat dimmer than anticipated by some cosmological theories, and hence further away than predicted by those theories [Riess et al., arXiv:astro-ph/9805201 v1, 15 May 1998, also J. Glanz, Science, Vol. 279, pp. 651, 1298, (1998)]. The usual explanation has been that these results indicate that the cosmos is accelerating in its expansion rate with time under the influence of a cosmological constant.
However, the most distant supernova yet discovered by the Hubble Space Telescope, SN 1997ff at z = 1.7, was significantly brighter than expected, indicating that it was closer than anticipated for its redshift [Science News, 31 March (2001). Also P. F. Schewe & B. Stein, Am. Inst. Phys., Physics News Update 533 (2001). Also P. Preuss, NERSC News Release, 2 April (2001)]. The explanation offered was that, at that point in time, the universe was still slowing its expansion rate under the influence of gravity before the action of the cosmological constant predominated. By implication, this situation was expected to prevail at all redshifts higher than 1.7. The interpretation offered was that at z = 1.7 we are close to the change-over point between these two forces.
The Redshift/Distance Relationship
Stripped to the bare bones, those results actually indicate that the redshift versus distance relationship undergoes a change in character around z = 1.7. It changes in such a way that the redshift now increases more rapidly with distance. In other words, at this point the redshift/distance relationship suddenly becomes a steeper curve than the one being followed out to this point. When this is coupled with the change in behaviour of the other types of object in the redshift range 1.5 to 2, the conclusion may legitimately be drawn that this change is of some significance.
It is at this juncture that these data help decide between several possible models based on the behaviour of lightspeed with time. As noted in the main redshift paper undergoing review, the speed of light is linked to the redshift in a linear fashion. In addition, with increasing astronomical distance we are looking further back in dynamical time. Therefore the graph of redshift against distance is the same graph as lightspeed against time. It is also the graph of the rate of ticking of the atomic clock compared with dynamical time since there is a direct relationship between lightspeed and the rate of ticking of the atomic clock in all its forms. So the behaviour of the redshift with distance is a key item that determines the modelling, and up to a redshift of z = 1.7 this relationship is firmly established.
One possible model maintained the usual redshift function right back to the origin of the cosmos. This allows the maximum value for lightspeed to be determined as being 8 X 1011 times its current value. Another option, suggested by the radiometric data from our solar system and earth, indicated that c dropped more steeply from this maximum of 8 X 1011 times c now at the beginning of Creation Week to a value of 1.3 X 107 times its current value at a redshift of 2, following which the usual redshift function was followed. This usual redshift function then added an extra 10.68 billion atomic years to the age of astronomical objects in the way elucidated above.
The two important markers as we look back in time are the steepening of the redshift relationship at z = 1.7 followed by the burst of activity that formed the Population I stars around a redshift of z = 2 or higher. According to the Genesis record, the formation of Population I stars closed the astronomical activity during Creation Week. Throughout that Week it might be anticipated that a different mathematical relationship for lightspeed and redshift was being followed compared with the relationship afterwards. A comparison of radiometric ages from the two stellar Populations with the radiometric data from our earth and solar system reinforce that conclusion. The change-over between the two mathematical relationships that is seen around z = 1.7 occurs sometime after the close of Creation Week, which was near z = 2. Biblically, there is a possibility that this change-over may have occurred about the time of the Fall. In this modelling, a linear approximation has been used for the redshift function at redshifts greater than 2. However, further studies of Type Ia supernovae at larger redshifts will be needed to define the behaviour of this function more accurately, and at the same time confirm or otherwise this choice as the more viable of the several possible models.
PART II The Solar System
A. Meteorites and Asteroids
The Types of Meteorites
We begin this section on the Solar System by considering the various types of meteorites that have been found. This is an important step since meteorite bombardment of the earth, Moon and other planets has played a key role on certain occasions throughout the history of the solar system. Furthermore, meteorites are generally considered to be fragments of larger bodies that originally populated the solar system. Consequently, they provide information about processes that must have operated within these and other planetary bodies.
There are three main classes of meteorite: the stony meteorites, which comprise up to 94%, the iron meteorites or siderites, which make up about 5% of the specimens, and the lithosiderites or stony-irons, which account for roughly 1% of the total. Although there are subdivisions within each class, it should be noted that there are basically two major types of stony meteorite, the chondrites, comprising 86% of meteorites found (see also the wikipedia entry for chondrites), and the achondrites, comprising 7% of falls. The chondrites contain spherically shaped, millimetre-sized inclusions of glassy rock and metals that in some cases at least are considered to have been "the oldest solid material within our solar system and are believed to be the building blocks of the planetary system." By contrast, the achondrites lack these spherical inclusions or 'chondrules' from which the chondrites take their name. Instead, the achondrites resemble basalts found in the crust of the earth and Moon.
However, not only the 'chondrules' in some of these bodies formed from precursor material. One form of chondrite that makes up 6% of all meteorites is the carbonaceous chondrites. These meteorites as a whole are also considered to represent the chemical composition of the material from which the solar system was formed. There are two reasons for this. First, in carbonaceous chondrites, the relative abundance of elements (not minerals or compounds) apart from hydrogen closely corresponds to those in the solar atmosphere. They may contain up to 20% water in various minerals including serpentine, 15% iron sulphide and around 3% carbon. They are classified on the abundance of these items . By contrast, the ordinary chondrites are simply classified according to their iron content. Second, the carbonaceous chondrites have not been submitted to temperatures high enough to alter the main minerals, and so are labelled as 'undifferentiated'. Instead, they are a heterogeneous agglomeration of minerals in a very fine carbon-rich matrix. They are the only type of meteorite where sheets of mica occur, usually in the hydrated form. By contrast, ordinary chondrites, including their 'chondrules,' have undergone phase changes through heating, while achondrites, siderites, and lithosiderites are the result of complete fusion followed by a re-crystallization (or differentiation).
Almost half the meteorites are breccias, compressed fragments of the same composition (monomict breccias) or of different composition (polymict breccias). Since meteorites are only fragments, it is presumed that they have originated in a larger, parent body that was broken up. The question then becomes 'Where do the meteorites come from?' The answer to this question is fairly certain to astronomers. For example, The Cambridge Atlas of Astronomy, p. 122, states: "Therefore, it is now thought that the majority of meteorites come from the asteroids, whose diversity amply covers all classes of meteorites." Furthermore, there is some order in this asteroidal diversity. The majority of asteroids orbit between Mars and Jupiter, but some 60% of them are dark and are concentrated in the outer regions of the main belt, while 30% of them are light and are found predominantly in the inner regions of the main belt. The remaining 10% are made up of several other minor categories.
The Types of Asteroid
The dark asteroids of the outer belt are rich in hydrated minerals, or minerals that contain water locked up in their crystal structure, while their darkness "is attributed to the presence of a few per cent of carbon on the surface" [Cambridge Atlas, p. 152]. They are therefore classified as C-type (carbonaceous) asteroids. These asteroids are considered to be the specific originators of the carbonaceous chondrites, among other types of stony meteorite. This view has recently been strengthened by data obtained from the NEAR spacecraft examination of the 66 km long C-class asteroid Mathilde, whose surface has the same spectroscopic signature as the carbonaceous chondrite meteorites [J. Veverka et al., Science, Vol. 278, pp. 2109-2114, (1998)].
The light coloured asteroids are classified as S (silicaceous) because they are made up of silicates (including pyroxenes and olivines) similar to the Moon, as well as metals (iron and nickel). This class of asteroid is considered to give rise to some types of stony meteorite as well as stony-irons. A number of asteroids whose orbit carries them into the inner solar system, such as the Apollo-Amor group, are also of the S-type classification. By way of elucidation, the NEAR examination of the 33 km long S-type asteroid Eros resulted in X-ray and gamma-ray spectrometer (XGRS) data that indicated the "composition of Eros is most consistent with undifferentiated ordinary chondritic material" [S. L. Wilkison et al., Lunar and Planetary Science Vol. XXXII, p. 1721 (2001). Also, J. Trombka et al., Science, Vol. 289, pp. 2101-2105, (2000)]. In fact, Steven Squyres, professor of astronomy at Cornell University stated, "It vastly narrows down the range of possibilities of what [chondrite] meteorites could be representative of. [With chondrites] it will be like holding a piece of Eros in our hands in fact we may be holding a piece of Eros."
The 10% of asteroids in the minor category includes a significant proportion of class M (metal) asteroids, like the 260 km Psyche, which is entirely nickel-iron [Ostro, Campbell & Shapiro, Science, Vol. 229, pp. 442-446, (1985)]. The metallic meteorites might derive from them or their parent body. In a similar way, the achondrite meteorites with their basaltic composition are "inferred to come from the crust of a single differentiated parent body" [C. R. Chapman, Nature, Vol. 385, pp. 293-295, (1997)]. A minority of asteroids, like number 4, Vesta, some 500 km in diameter, and asteroid 1929 Kollaa, have at least their surfaces composed of basalt, which holds the potential to account for the Howardite, Eucrite, and Diogenite (HED) achondrites. Indeed, Michael Kelley from NASA's Johnson Space centre went further. He stated: "We determined the mineralogy of asteroid 1929 Kollaa and found that it was once part of a larger asteroid called 4 Vesta." [Space Daily News Release from Boulder on November 12, 2001. Data reported by Kelley to the Geological Society of America annual meeting in Boston, 8th November 2001]. This assertion that Vesta and Kollaa were originally one larger body leads to a discussion of the origins of this space debris.
The Origin of Meteorites and Asteroids
Bearing in mind all the foregoing evidence, the origin of the various meteorites is summarised by the Cambridge Atlas in the following terms [p.122]: "The achondrites could come from the 'crust' or 'mantle' of different asteroids, the siderites from the cores, and the lithosiderites from the mantle-core interface." Implicit in this statement is the suggestion that the appropriate asteroid(s) must have been fractured, particularly if part of the metallic core is to become a meteorite. This is still true even though some meteorites today can be traced to the surface of specific asteroids from which they were ejected by collision. If the meteorites therefore originated from the asteroids, then asteroidal origins must be discussed. The NEAR data indicate that some asteroidal bodies like Eros are heavily fractured and contain fragments that have undergone small displacement [Wilkison op. cit.], while the characteristics of others like Mathilde can only be explained if they are a "rubble pile" rather than a monolithic fragment [see W. F. Bottke "Are Asteroids Rubble Piles", Paper for 23rd Meeting of the International Seminars on Planetary Emergencies, Erice, Italy, September 10, (1998). As a result, the Cambridge Atlas [p. 154] states: "the majority of the asteroids are fragments of primordial bodies of greater size, metallic asteroids originating, for example, from the core of a larger, differentiated body." So it is considered that the asteroids themselves came from some larger parent body.
The Cambridge Atlas [p. 154] then concludes there are two possibilities for the larger parent body. "The first involves the existence of a mother planet, orbiting between Mars and Jupiter, which itself was fragmented." However, because it is difficult to find a reason for this original planet to disrupt, it was decided that the gravitational might of Jupiter prevented a large planet from forming. As a result, it is concluded that a whole population of smaller parent objects formed, which later fragmented through collision. However, several lines of evidence favour the explosive disruption of a mother planet [T. Van Flandern, "Dark Matter, Missing Planets & New Comets," p. 216, North Atlantic Books, California, 1993. Also, Meta Research Bulletin, Vol. 4:3, September 15, (1995)]. First, many asteroids have subsidiary moons around them or are surrounded by orbiting pieces of debris. This is difficult to explain by the second option, but would be expected on the explosive disruption of a parent planet. Second, the distribution of asteroids contains explosion signatures similar to those that were first catalogued for fragments of artificial satellites that blew up in earth orbit. Third, there is the suggestion of an explosion from the pattern of dark residue on moons in the outer solar system that may have resulted from a blast wave travelling through. Fourth, the mean relative velocity between asteroids, about 5 km/sec, is too high to result from collisions, fragmentation, or planetary perturbations.
On this basis, then, the first possibility for the formation of asteroids and meteorites is favoured, namely a parent planet that fragmented, disrupted, or exploded sending debris through the solar system with asteroids and meteorites being the left-overs. Because of the mineralogy of the S-type asteroids, it appears that they are the remains of the major parent planet, which we will call Planet Y, with an interior that contained a core, a mantle and a crust. The C-type asteroids do not seem to have been so differentiated, and must have come from a smaller body, perhaps the moon of this planet, which may have had a chondritic interior which had undergone some phase changes due to heating, and an unheated, carbonaceous chondritic upper layer. The reason why Planet Y and its moon exploded now becomes important, and it is at this point that light-speed again enters the picture.
The Role of Radioactive Heating
We have seen how both the asteroids and meteorites are considered to come from a larger body (or bodies) many of whose minerals have either undergone phase changes or else have been fully 'differentiated' by heating. As a result, it becomes apparent that a major source of heat is needed to perform this task. Since even the earth's surface was covered with a layer of water early on Day 1 of Creation Week from Genesis 1 and perhaps Job 38, it is apparent that the earth, and by implication the other solar system bodies, were formed in a cool state. This contrasts with current astronomical thinking, which usually prefers a hot accumulation of solar system bodies following which they cool to form a crust, core etc. If the Scriptural record is accepted, it means that planetary interiors, including that of Planet Y and its moon, were initially cool. Consequently, the currently observed heat flux from planetary surfaces had to come from some other mechanism as they heated up over time. In the case of Planet Y, this heat source must also be partly responsible for the fragmentation of the planet and its moon.
Interestingly, in the case of meteorites and hence asteroids, the source of heat is already known and acknowledged. Isotopic anomalies occur in meteorites, among which is a super-abundance of magnesium 26 correlated with the abundance of aluminium in the samples. It is stated that "This excess of magnesium 26 very probably results from the radio-active decay of aluminium 26. Heat from a 'short'-period radioactive element, such as aluminium 26, would be sufficient to melt bodies of a size greater than 10 kilometres." [Cambridge Atlas, pp. 122-123]. When it is remembered that aluminium 26 would have an accelerated decay rate with high light-speed values, a potentially viable scenario opens up.
The mechanism whereby the heat from rapid radioactive decay of short half-life elements caused a fracturing of Planet Y and its moon can be found in the composition of the original material making up these bodies. As noted for the carbonaceous chondrites, some interstitial water is present and water is also locked up in the crystal lattices in minerals such as serpentine. Serpentine contains 13% water in this form and, when it is heated, the water is expelled and the resulting mineral is olivine. It is therefore possible that some of the olivine in differentiated bodies may have derived from serpentine. In some bodies, water content goes as high as 27% [see for example this abstract]. As the water is expelled from thepores and minerals deep in the interior of a large body and the heat builds up, tremendous pressures would eventually result which had the potential to shatter a large but weakly agglomerated body.
The action of hot water thereby becomes important in the understanding of the processes involved. There is evidence of the presence of hot water in a number of meteorites. For example, in case of the Tieschitz meteorite, a H/L chondrite, it is stated that radiometric clocks were reset about 2 billion years ago "aqueous fluid may have been active on the Tieschitz parent body only 2 Ga ago. If correct, this would be the first evidence that an ordinary chondrite parent body underwent internal reprocessing significantly later than 4.5 Ga ago. " In a similar way under the heading of the Monahans meteorite (where MONAHANS replaces TIESCHIT in the above link), the same site points out that radiometric dating of halite (NaCl) and sylvite (KCl) crystals has given an age of 4.33 billion years and states that "These minerals are possibly related to aqueous alteration processes involving near-surface asteroidal brines." This evidence suggests that water was being driven out of the mineral structure towards the surface by the heat of radioactive decay. Indeed, the effect of radioactive decay is seen in the halite on the Monahans meteorite as the halite has "acquired purple and blue colours during the long transit through the radioactive decay of elements in close proximity" [op. cit.]. More likely than a long transit time for the crystals would be the accelerated decay rate of the radioactive elements due to high light-speed values which could result in the same discolouration.
Important Events Recorded by Planet Y and its Moon
As a result of these considerations, it may be deduced that high light-speed values caused an accelerated the rate of decay for the short half-life radioactive elements and so was largely responsible for heating the interior of Planet Y, from which asteroids and meteorites derived. Furthermore, this also means that the radiometric data from meteorites indicating 4.6 billion atomic years as the age of the Solar System may instead be referring to events whereby radiometric clocks were reset by processes associated with this heating. In the case of the Canyon Diablo meteorite, the above reference (with CANYOND in the URL) states that "About 4.55 b.y [billion years] ago, inside the parent body, a melting process separated the nickel-iron alloy from the silicates with which it was originally associated." Similarly, for the Caddo County meteorite it is also stated that silicates separated from the metal about 4.53 billion years ago. In these cases the 4.5 billion years does not refer to the formation of the object but rather to the time of the initial heating event. Since similar processes were acting in other bodies in the solar system, including the earth, a similar date for the re-setting of radiometric clocks might be expected.
The next event somewhere around 3.9 to 3.5 billion atomic years ago is recorded by some achondrites from the crust and at least two stony-irons from deeper in the interior of the asteroidal parent planet. The Stannern achondrite records it as an impact event at 3.7 billion atomic years ago in which some isotopic clocks were reset. The Millbillillie meteorite records this major impact event radiometrically dated as occurring 3.55 billion atomic years ago. An achondrite from the Sahara labelled as S99555 records a late isotopic disturbance on the parent planet at 3.54 billion atomic years. Two stony-irons (Bondoc and Estherville) also record this event radiometrically as occurring 3.9 billion atomic years ago. The additional comments associated with these last two meteorites give some idea of the importance of this event. It is considered that "A likely cause for this event is the collisional disruption and gravitational reassembly of the [parent] asteroid" [ibid].
These radiometric dates are of significance in that they also coincide with an event recorded on both Mars and the Moon. This event is called the "Late Heavy Bombardment" in which a cloud of debris swept through the inner solar system leaving impact craters on Mars and the Moon. The radiometric dates for this event from Lunar samples range from 3.92 down to 2.76 billion atomic years, with the majority of samples returning dates above 3.05 billion atomic years [Cohen, Swindle and Kring, Science, Vol. 290, pp.1754-1756, 1 December 2000]. Cohen et al. state that "A 'spike' in the impactor flux at ~ 3.9 Ga [billion atomic years] is the easiest way to match the impact melt age data." They further state that "Impact ages in euchrites [achondrites], mesosiderites [stony-irons], and other meteorites have a similar distribution: none are older than ~ 3.9 Ga, with ages tailing down to 3.4 Ga or younger, suggesting the cataclysm affected the entire inner solar system, including Mars." This evidence also indicates that the parent planet for asteroids and meteorites was also hit in this Late Heavy Bombardment (LHB). Consequently, Planet Y could not have been the source of the impacting objects. The source of the impactors for the LHB must thereby have been located in the outer solar system, and may have given rise to the Kuiper Belt of objects and the comets in a similar way to which Planet Y and its moon gave rise to the asteroid belt and meteorites. The exploration of one possibility among several options in this matter was performed by Harold Levison and published in Icarus for June 2001 and New Scientist for 7 April 2001.
Dating the Break-up of Planet Y and its Moon
Given the build-up of pressure from the heating process considered above, it may not be any cause for wonder that Planet Y and its moon shattered. The task that remains is to now identify the times that these events occurred. There will be at least two separate events because the quantity of water locked up in minerals and the amount of radioactive elements providing the heating will be different for each body, and consequently so will be the times of fragmentation. The way that these events are dated comes from the Cosmic Ray Exposure (CRE) age of the resulting meteorites. "The cosmic ray exposure age is how long a meteorite orbited in interplanetary space, exposed to cosmic rays from the Sun and the galaxy. As these cosmic rays (high energy elementary particles) hit a meteorite, they produce some characteristic new isotopes (by transmutation) of chemical elements, both radioactive and stable." [http://set.lanl.gov/programs/mars/Ages.htm -- this article is no longer available that we could find as of November 2008]. The CRE age has thus been calibrated using the radiometric time scale and therefore is a form of atomic clock.
In order to fully understand the story these CRE ages tell, it is necessary to remember that cosmic rays have a limited depth of penetration. Accordingly, it is probably true that the oldest age in a cluster of CRE dates represents the original break-up event following which successively younger dates in the cluster result from continuing disintegration and exposure of the fragments. With this in mind, the oldest CRE dates are found in the IIIC iron meteorites where all are about 700 million atomic years old. Of the remaining iron meteorites, over half have exposure ages that range down from this maximum to 500 million atomic years. A second cluster of dates occurs from 255 to 200 million among the remaining irons and at least one stony iron records an age of 230 ± 70 million atomic years. Since it is acknowledged that these groups of irons "originated on a common parent body" the suggestion is that "a two-stage breakup event [occurred] involving separate regions of the parent body." [note: the original reference for this is no longer available as it was also at a set.lanl.gov. site.]
The CRE data from the iron meteorites and some stony-irons that originated deep in Planet Y therefore indicate a two-stage break-up of this asteroidal parent body that occurred about 700 million atomic years ago and 255 million atomic years ago. As for the chondritic moon of Planet Y, similar evidence starts with the oldest CRE date for this group, variously recorded as 76 and 61 million atomic years. This gives a mean age of 68.5 million atomic years for the break-up of this moon, while the rest of the data tail down to about 20 million atomic years. Similarly, some achondrites, perhaps from deep within this moon, give CRE ages that start about 77 million atomic years and then range down to about 50 million. This seems to indicate that the break-up of the moon of planet Y occurred about 73 ± 3 million atomic years ago, the most accurately determined of these early dates. There is a final cluster of dates for a variety of meteorites that range from 9 million down to about 3 million atomic years. It is possible that these late dates represent collisional events in the asteroid belt rather than major break-ups of parent bodies.
In summary, then, there are three major break-up events recorded by Planet Y and its moon. They are the two-stage disintegration of the planet at 700 million and 255 million atomic years, with the moon breaking up somewhere between 73 million and 68.5 million atomic years. These dates are significant in earth-bound geology. The period around 700 million atomic years, the Neo-Proterozoic or Infra-Cambrian, is the time of formation of a massive debris layer that can be found on every continent except India. The period around 255 million atomic years closely corresponds with the Permian extinction event at 251 million atomic years. The period around 68 to 73 million atomic years closely corresponds to the Cretaceous/Tertiary extinction event dated as 65 million atomic years. There is geological evidence of asteroidal impacts occurring with at least two of these three major events. The conclusion is that the break-ups of Planet Y and its moon may have some implications for events elsewhere in the inner solar system.
B. The Inner Planets
With the information gained from the minor planets, that is meteorites and asteroids, it is now possible to assess the effects of similar processes on the inner planets of the solar system. In addition to the Scriptural information that the planets were probably formed in a cool state, there are basically five points that the meteorites and asteroids have taught us. First, water was present in the crystal structure of some of the minerals making up the inner planets. Second, short half-life radioactive elements were also present. Third, high light-speed values resulted in accelerated decay rates for these radioactive elements. Fourth, the heat from this process drove off the water locked up in the primordial minerals as the internal temperatures of the planets increased. Fifth, this process resulted in a build-up of pressure, which, in the case of Planet Y, brought about its disruption. Let us briefly examine some of the inner planets to see what effects these factors had on them individually.
A Brief History of Mars
The history of the planet Mars basically accords with the data from the minor planets. This might be expected as it is the closest of the inner planets to the asteroid belt, and so, compositionally, it should have been very similar. Although this is only an overview, some of the details on which it is based can be found in The Cambridge Atlas of Astronomy, page 126, accompanied by diagrams. First, there was the period of initial heating, just as for the minor planets. Studies of meteorites originating from Mars place this about 4.5 billion atomic years ago [E. Jagoutz et al., Meteoritics, Vol. 29, p. 478 (1994), also L. E. Nyquist et al., Lunar and Planetary Science, Vol. XXVI, p. 1065 (1995)].
Second, this was followed by the Late Heavy Bombardment impacts. This is revealed by shock metamorphism and crushing that dates about 4.0 billion atomic years in meteorites from Mars [Ash, Knott and Turner, Nature Vol. 380, p. 57 (1996), also A. H. Treiman, Meteoritics, Vol. 30, p. 294 (1995)]. By using topographic data from the Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter (MOLA), Herbert Frey of the Geodynamics Branch of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Centre discovered an unexpectedly large grouping of major impact basins buried under the northern plains on Mars that resulted from this LHB. Frey discussed these findings at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America in Boston, Massachusetts on 8th November 2001.
As detailed in the next section, on our own Moon, this LHB formed the major impact basins, which were later covered with basaltic magma from its interior and formed the lowland Mare plains. On the Moon these (predominantly) northern plains contrast with the heavily cratered areas, which are mainly in the south. In a very similar way for Mars, it now seems likely that the action of the LHB on that planet may have been responsible for the demarcation between what are now the lowland plains of the northern hemisphere and the heavily cratered terrains of the south.
The third phase of activity then occurred. As the internal heating of Mars continued, the Martian mantle expanded, the Tharsis region uplifted, and many great fractures were activated. The enormous Marineris Valley, a 3000 km long gash that averages 6 km deep and may classify as Mars' single most notable surface feature, is considered by most planetary geologists to be a "stretch mark" from these expansion events. It seems to have been enlarged by the action of water. Indeed, the fourth point is that there is evidence of considerable surface erosion associated with this time of mantle expansion, so water seems to be linked with this phase of activity. This action of water on the surface of Mars has been dated at 1.39 billion atomic years using the rubidium/strontium system on carbonate minerals in meteorite ALH84001 from Mars [M. Wadhwa and G. W. Lugmair, Meteoritics, Vol. 31, A145 (1996)]. Note that an earlier date using different isotopes has been questioned since it is not well defined [E. K. Gibson et al., Lunar and Planetary Science Vol. XXVIII, p. 1544 (1997)].
It is likely that the water involved in this activity was outgassed from the interior of Mars. Evidence of the action of water takes a variety of forms. For example, the largest outflow channel system on Mars is found on the north-west slopes of the Tharsis region. Dr James M. Dohm of the University of Arizona stated: "The best explanation is that they were formed by catastrophic floods that at their peak potentially discharged as much as 50,000 times the flow of the Amazon river, Earth's largest river." In the news release from the University of Arizona for 3rd August 2001 Dohm elaborated further: "At sustained peak discharge rates, floods through the valleys would have filled a large ocean (96 million cubic kilometres) hypothesized for northern Mars in about 8 weeks, and a smaller ocean (14 million cubic kilometres) in the same region in about 8 days, according to the scientists' calculations. The large ocean is equivalent to about a third the volume of the Indian Ocean, or more than three times the volume of the Mediterranean Sea, Caribbean Sea, South China Sea and Arctic Ocean combined. The smaller ocean is equal in volume to the Arctic Ocean." The basis for these statements appear in the Journal of Geophysical Research, Vol. 106, June 2001. The Uni of Arizona news release is at: http://www.newswise.com/articles/2001/8/MARSFLDS.UAZ.hml. It may be food for thought that if this has happened on Mars, similar, but upscaled events might also have happened on earth. Importantly, "scientists have always had a great deal of trouble explaining just where those gigantic eruptions of high- pressure water came from especially since the patches of collapsed, "chaotic" ground from which they seem to have gushed usually don't look anywhere near big enough to contain amounts of water capable of carving such huge flood channels." Despite the various solutions proposed, the matter is still one of debate. However, one possible answer to the problem is that these patches of collapsed, "chaotic" ground may in fact be the location of the Martian equivalent of earth's "fountains of the deep." Both would have burst forth with water from deep in the interior of the planet, which originated from the radioactive heating of hydrated minerals in the mantle.
Finally, as the heating of the mantle continued, and the rock there became at least partly molten, a period of volcanic activity occurred with a massive outpouring of lava covering a major portion of the northern hemisphere lowland plains at that time. The Cambridge Atlas p. 125 makes an important comment: "The ancient terrain shows networks of channels which generally end abruptly at the boundary of the regions covered by the formation of the more recent plains." This magmatic outpouring not only truncated the network of channels at the edge of the plains, but also may have vaporised a significant portion of any water in those lowland areas. In any case, the water on Mars has since been lost, perhaps through several mechanisms aided by the low atmospheric pressure and its weak gravitational field. This aspect of the topic is one of continuing scientific discussion.
In summary, the sequence of events on Mars seems to be as follows: (1) Initial heating of the interior. (2) The LHB, which seems to have formed large impact basins in the northern sector of the planet. (3) As heating continued, the Martian mantle expanded and fractures were activated. (4) Surface erosion occurred as water was outgassed from the interior. Perhaps oceans temporarily existed in the low-lying northern areas at this time. (5) The mantle became mobile and magma was outpoured (probably basaltic) covering the northern lowlands and holding the potential to vaporise much of the water.
A Brief History of Our Moon
In a way very reminiscent of the minor planets and Mars, the history of the Moon can also be delineated. Following its formation, the interior of the Moon heated up, and the Late Heavy Bombardment occurred. This LHB, dated on the Moon as occurring somewhere between 4.2 to 3.8 billion atomic years ago, was responsible for the major impact basins. It has been suggested that about 50 recognised circular basins over 300 km in diameter were formed at that time [D. E. Wilhelms, "The geologic history of the moon," U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1348, pp. 57-82 (1987). Also, P. D. Spudis, "Large Meteorite Impacts and Planetary Evolution," Geological Society of America Special Paper 293, pp.1-10 (1994)]. H. H. Schmitt states that "the source of these basin-forming impactors has not been identified," but then goes on to list four possibilities. Of these the two most likely are the injection into the inner solar system of objects from the proto-Kuiper-Edgeworth Belt of cometary objects due to the orbital resonance with Neptune, and the break-up of the planetesimal precursor of the Main Belt Asteroids ["Source and Implications of Large lunar Basin-Forming Objects" presented at 31st Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, Houston TX, 13-17 March 2000]. However, because the evidence presented earlier indicates the precursor planet that formed the asteroid belt also underwent the LHB event, this indicates that the LHB reflects a break-up of an object in the Kuiper Belt rather than the asteroid belt. The breakup of this Kuiper Belt object is likely to have been the originator of the comets.
Because the Moon is smaller than Mars, there was not the quantity of water to outgas. Instead it was probably incorporated into the highly fluid basalt that was outpoured to form the great Maria plains as a result of the radioactive heating of the Lunar interior. This occurred in two phases. First, there was an older basalt with a high titanium content and ages ranging from 3.8 to 3.5 billion atomic years which inundated Mare Tranquillitatis and the Taurus-Littrow mare regions and other portions of the eastern hemisphere as seen from earth. This includes the areas explored by Apollo 11 and 17. Second, there exists a younger, low titanium group of basalts associated with Mare Imbrium, and Mare Serenitatis and Oceanus Procellarum, which generally date from about 3.4 to 3.1 billion atomic years. These central and western regions of the near-side of the Moon include the areas visited by the Apollo 12 and 15 astronauts [M. W. Davidson, Florida State University, Tallahassee, in "Moon Rocks Under the Microscope," (October 2001) found at http://micro.magnet.fsu.edu/publications/pages/rocks.html]. Over 90% of observed volcanic deposits on the Moon were emplaced during this period from 3.8 to 3.1 billion atomic years. J. W. Head, L. Wilson, and D. Wilhelms state: "The source of heat required for melting and depth of origin is a major outstanding question in the petrogenesis of mare basalts" [Paper 1112 "Lunar Mare Basalt Volcanism", 28th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, March 1997]. The end of major eruptions of mare basalt around 3 billion atomic years ago ushered in a stage of lunar development in which only minor changes to the surface occurred [see D. E. Wilhelms, 1987 op. cit.]. Since then, a few significant craters such as Copernicus and Tycho were formed. Their ages are about 850 million and 70 million atomic years respectively [L. T. Silver, Eos, Vol. 52, p.534 (1971) and Silver & Schultz, Geological Society of America, Special Paper 190, October 1981, pp. ii and xiv].
The sequence of events on the Moon therefore appears to be as follows: (1) Initial heating of the interior. (2) The LHB forming massive basins. (3) The continued heating of the interior that resulted in highly mobile basalts flooding the massive basins, which then delineated the low-lying Mare plains from the highly cratered uplands. (4) Later impact events formed a few significant craters. The importance of the radioactive heating of the lunar interior may thereby be assessed.
A Brief History of Venus
Despite the abundance of water in carbonaceous chondrites, the question of water on Venus is one of continuing study. It is usually considered that the primordial material of which the planets were composed was more depleted in volatiles closer to the sun. Nevertheless, the ratio of deuterium to hydrogen in the atmosphere of Venus indicates that water had indeed been outgassed from the interior initially, just as in the case of Mars. However, this was subsequently lost to the planet because of its proximity to the sun. The Cambridge Atlas [p. 74-75] has this to say about the early conditions: "Therefore, it is possible that at the start of the evolution of the secondary atmosphere, through outgassing of material locked up during the formation of Venus, the environment at the surface was relatively moderate. Just as at the surface of earth, water was present in a liquid state and carbon dioxide gas formed a small fraction of the atmosphereThe atmosphere of Venus rapidly evolved to become very dense with, as major components, carbon dioxide gas and water vapour in the lower atmosphere and molecular hydrogen in the upper atmosphere." This water was then lost through increasing heat and definable escape mechanisms.
The surface and interior structure of Venus have been a topic of continuing scientific discussion since a wealth of data was sent back by the Magellan probe. Topographically, Venus contains several continent-sized plateau highlands that rise 3 or more kilometres above the lowland plains that comprise about 80% of that planet's surface. These gently rolling plains are thought to be primarily due to effusive eruptions of basaltic lava upon which has been superimposed a random distribution of impact craters. This random distribution is coupled with the fact that few craters display signs of significant modification by either tectonic or volcanic processes. In a paper entitled "Magellan: A new view of Venus' geology and geophysics" D. L. Bindschadler states "The impact crater distribution appears to be most consistent with models that call for a near-complete resurfacing of the planet prior to 300 500 Ma [million atomic years]. Subsequent to this period of extreme [volcanic] activity, [geological] process rates declined and impact craters began to accumulate, with only minor modification and resurfacing since." He finally concludes that "most, if not all, of the plains region on Venus are the result of a rapid volcanic resurfacing that occurred ~ 500 m.y. [million atomic years] ago. The possibility of such an "event" presents a challenge to our understanding of the mechanics of the eruption and emplacement of magma, as well as the interior dynamics required to create and extrude these plains" [U.S. National Report to IUGG, 1991-1994 in Reviews of Geophysics, Vol. 33 Supplement, 1995].
From the evidence available, it seems as if the sequence of events on Venus probably goes somewhat as follows: (1) Ougassing of water from the interior, which may have formed an ocean, and assisted in forming the greenhouse type atmospheric conditions. (2) Outpouring of basaltic magma from the interior resurfacing the planet and obliterating any existing craters. (3) Impacts from later events in the solar system superimposed on the new basaltic surface. These events are thereby largely in accord with the approach suggested by the minor planet data.
A Summary For Mercury
Because of the limited data from the Mariner 10 probe, it has only been possible to make a geological map for 35% of the surface of Mercury. As in the case of earth's Moon and Mars, the limited data seem to indicate that there are impact basins that have filled with magma to form large plains, which again seem to be mainly north of the planet's equator. The Caloris Basin is the largest feature photographed and has a diameter one quarter that of the planet. Its date of formation is given as being between 3.8 and 3.9 billion atomic years ago [Cambridge Atlas, p. 68]. This is in accord with the suspicion that it may have been formed by the LHB. Although Mercury went through its phase of internal heating very early, forming the more uniformly distributed "old plains", the Caloris Basin impact rekindled some of this activity and was implicated in the formation of the "young" plains of the northern sector.
A Brief History of the Earth
In the case of our home planet, a study by William Peck and Stephen Mojzsis of zircons from the Jack Hills rock formation in Western Australia has revealed that oceans, continents and flowing water existed 4.3 to 4.4 billion atomic years ago [Nature, Vol. 409, 11th January, 2001, A. N. Halliday, pp.144-145; S. A. Wilde et al, pp. 175-178; S. J. Mojzsis et al., pp. 178-181]. With those radiometric dates, these zircons are the oldest items found so far on earth. The data do not contradict the Scriptural record that oceans and a supercontinent existed as early as Day 3 of Creation Week.
It appears that the LHB has left no record on the land areas of earth. However, in the rest of the solar system, the LHB influenced the formation of areas lying several kilometres below the general land surface that may be basaltic in nature. Such areas on earth are confined to the ocean basins. The conclusion is that any LHB objects hitting the earth must have impacted in what is now the ocean. Furthermore, in the scenario developed here, it seems likely that these impactors were cometary in nature, not asteroidal. Such impactors may well have fragmented significantly in our atmosphere, as well as that of Venus. By way of comparison, Mercury, the Moon and Mars are substantially devoid of atmospheres and so break-up would be less likely to occur. There is a suggestion, too, that the resulting crater size is dependent upon the gravitational field of the planet that has been hit. Consequently, the giant impact basins on the Mercury, the Moon and Mars may have had much smaller counterparts on earth.
This final section is merely sketched out as it is developed in much more detail in the section dealing with geological consequences. The next major event in this scenario is the occurrence of a world-wide debris layer that dates as 700 to 600 million atomic years. According to the redshift correction to atomic dates, this event coincides with Noah's Flood, when about half the volume of our present oceans erupted onto the surface as the fountains of the deep burst forth. The heating of the interior had driven the water that had been locked up in minerals towards the surface, where it eventually ruptured the crust. In a similar episode on Mars, recall that the calculations revealed the equivalent of a third the volume of the Indian Ocean was flooded into the low-lying Martian plains in about 8 weeks. As heating continued after this outgassing of water, parts of the earth's mantle became fluidised which eventually resulted in a rampant volcanic episode. This occurred at the time of the Permian extinction about 250 million atomic years ago. On the redshift correction, this date corresponds closely with the date of the Babel dispersion.
As heating continued, the mantle became more mobile, more water was released, and the viscosity of the magma was lowered. A highly mobile layer, rich in water lies beneath the crust and is called the asthenosphere. It is on this layer that the continents are drifting today. At the time of the asteroidal impacts associated with the Cretaceous/Tertiary extinction event, it is possible that asthenosphere mobility would have been at a maximum. Consequently, the impetus given to continental drift by the impacts would have resulted in peak rates of drift as the continents fully separated. According to the redshift correction to atomic dates, this event some 65 million years ago atomically corresponds to the division of the continents in the days of Peleg. An expanded discussion of these events and the redshift correction with which they are associated can be found in the geological model.
As pointed out in the article above, the heat production that led to the disruption of Planet Y and its moon was probably due to the radioactive decay of aluminium 26, since meteoritic isotopic abundances indicate enrichment of its daughter product magnesium 26. By contrast, similar isotopic abundances indicate the long-term heat production by radiogenic elements for the earth was predominantly from uranium, thorium and potassium.
In a recent article, Arthur Calderwood, from the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, pointed out that it is possible to construct a model of the earth's interior using the full standard C1 chondrite abundance of uranium and thorium within the silicate earth. When this is done, the model also requires that the core be enriched by 1420 parts per million in potassium [Journal of Conference Abstracts, Vol. 5 (2), p. 280, 2000, Cambridge Publications, Goldschmidt 2000, September 3rd 8th, 2000, Oxford, UK]. The physical reason why the enrichment occurs is that potassium forms a stable, high pressure metal alloy with nickel-iron in its liquid state, and so would be incorporated into the core during its formation. As a result, this model predicts that most of today's mantle heat flux comes from the core rather than from the mantle as required by the traditional interpretation. [Calderwood, op. cit., p. 283]. He pointed out that the traditional interpretation requires the lower mantle, below 660 kilometres, to be a chemically distinct reservoir rich in potassium, uranium, thorium, and argon 40 [op. cit., p. 280]. However, in fairness to the traditional model, it must be pointed out that a 1999 re-assessment of 1997data indicated that it is the bottom 1000 kilometres of the mantle, starting at a depth of 1700 kilometres, that contains anomalous reservoirs of heat producing elements ["Researchers propose new model for Earth mantle convection", MIT News Release, 31 March, 1999]. This becomes a middle position between the Calderwood proposal and the traditional view, and therefore merits serious attention.
While these considerations may well be important in refined models, the purpose of this Appendix is to obtain some feel for the situation with regard to radiogenic heating of the earth's interior. To this end, a simplified approach is adopted where it is assumed that the rate of heat production in the earth's interior is similar to that of dunite [Slusher & Gamwell, ICR Monograph "The Age of the Earth", pp. 50, 52]. It is acknowledged that the rate of heat production by radiogenic material in dunite is around 1.73 x 10-15 calories/gram/second, which is about 4.5 times higher than that usually pertaining in meteorites [Slusher & Gamwell, p. 51, Table A]. In adopting this higher value, it may be assumed that any genuine enrichment factors have been covered. In order to perform the necessary calculations, the number of calories per gram per year are needed for dunite. Since there are about 3.1557 x 107 seconds in an orbital year, then the heat production rate for dunite is 5.46 x 10-8 calories per gram per year.
It is at this point that light-speed enters the discussion. From the redshift curve, it was noted that the total time ticked off by radiometric clocks from the time the sun started shining until the present was 10.68 x 109 atomic years. Rocks formed at the beginning of Noah's Flood now register an age of 0.720 x 109 atomic years. This means that there were 9.96 x 109 atomic years of ageing in the 1656 years from Creation to the Flood. This represents 93.3% of all ageing from Creation until now. This means that the average atomic clock rate was (9.96 x 109)/(1656) = 6 x 106 atomic years per year from Creation to the Flood. This was also means that the heat production rate was on average 6 million times faster than now. Thus the heat production rate for dunite in the period from Creation to the Flood also became (5.46 x 10-8) (6 x 106) = 0.3276 calories per gram per year. Thus over the 1656 years to the Flood, the total number of calories per gram becomes 0.3276 x 1656 = 542.5 calories per gram. In order to convert this into a temperature, the quantity needed is the specific heat, S. This specific heat can be shown to be independent of light-speed and is defined as the number of calories/gram/degree. Therefore the number of degrees can be found from the equation Temperature = (calories/gram)/S. From the figures given above, the temperature in degrees then is given by 542.5/S.
The usual range of specific heats for rocks range from S = 0.3 down to S = 0.1. As a result, the temperature of rocks in the mantle at the time of the Flood would range from 542.5/0.3 = 1808 degrees Celsius up to 542.5/0.1 = 5425 degrees C. This latter temperature is close to that suspected to pertain in the core, which is estimated to be from 5400 to 5700 degrees K [Steinle-Neumann et al, Nature, Vol. 413, p. 57, 6th Sept, 2001]. Since a 4.5 fold enrichment of radiogenic elements has been assumed in this calculation, these temperatures are in basic agreement with the traditional model which proposes an enriched lower mantle. Thus a temperature of 1800 degrees at the top of the lower mantle and a temperature of 5400 degrees in the core at the time of the Flood appears to be a reasonable proposition. Since this heating represents 93.3% of the total up to the present, a final temperature for the core today would be at a maximum of about 5815 degrees, with the mantle being at about 1940 degrees.
Barry Setterfield 14thFebruary 2002.
Links checked and superscripts corrected Nov. 23, 2008