The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) has resolved the event horizon of a supermassive black hole

On April 10th the globally coordinated announcement was made of the first ever image of the event horizon of the supermassive black hole at the centre of the distant galaxy Messier 87 (M87). The galaxy is at a distance of 55 million light-years and the supermassive black hole was confirmed to have a mass of 6.5 billion suns. See details of press release here.

The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) — a planet-scale array of eight ground-based radio telescopes forged through international collaboration — was designed to capture images of supermassive black holes at the centre of galaxies.

Figure 1: Using the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), scientists obtained an image of the black hole at the centre of galaxy M87, outlined by emission from hot gas swirling around it under the influence of strong gravity near its event horizon. Credit: Event Horizon Telescope collaboration et al.

This is the work of many astronomers using millimetre wave VLBI radio-telescopes across the planet. By stitching together the power of 8 state-of-the-art mmWave radio-telescopes they essentially turned the planet into one giant radio-telescope. By using such a large telescope and millimetre wavelengths they gained never before obtained resolution to image the event horizon, which is about the diameter of our solar system.

Figure 2: Map of the EHT. Stations active in 2017 and 2018 are shown with connecting lines and labelled in yellow, sites in commission are labeleld in green, and legacy sites are labelled in red. Nearly redundant baselines are overlaying each other, i.e., to ALMA/APEX and SMA/JCMT. Such redundancy allows improvement in determining the amplitude calibration of the array.
Credit: Event Horizon Telescope collaboration et al

The results, so far, are consistent with all predictions of Einstein’s General Relativity theory.

From the biblical creationist perspective this is, yet again, good operational science. There is nothing new here that refutes the biblical timeline of about 6 thousand year because that is subject to historical science considerations. It is not an operational science question.

The distance to the galaxy is about 55 million light-years. Using the Einstein Synchrony Convention (ESC) (which assumes isotropic speed of light, c) the millimetre waves used in this measurement took 55 million years to reach Earth. But using the Anisotropic Synchrony Convention (ASC), where the incoming speed of light, one-way, is chosen at infinity, the black hole is essentially observed in real time. No delay. This is consistent with the biblical description of events in the cosmos. See Genesis 1:16-19, Psalm 33:9, and Isaiah 48:7,13.

The data was taken from the different telescopes and was assembled and processed over a period of about a year but those initial observations were taken over a period of 7 days in April of 2017. Assuming the ASC, over those days the supermassive black hole was “observed” in real time. In the same way over the 24-hour period Day 4 of Creation Week about 6000 years ago all the stars and galaxies (with black holes at their centres) were “observed” at the earth as God created them in real time (Genesis 1:16-19). God spoke and “it was so.”

Has the dark matter mystery been solved?

Unseen dark matter has been invoked several times to solve problems in astrophysics and cosmology. Historically the most significant problem has been the rotation curves of galaxies, particularly spiral galaxies. Using the Doppler Effect the speeds of the stars and gases in the disk regions of spiral galaxies can be measured. See Fig. 1.

By now hundreds of thousands of galaxies have been measured this way. What is observed is that the speeds of the stars, and the gases beyond where the stars are observed, are much greater than it would appear Newtonian physics allows for.

Figure 1: Edge on spiral galaxy and a rotation curve. Speeds of stars measured from the centre of a galaxy like this, as a function of distance in light-years. Using carbon-monoxide (CO) as a tracer gas the speeds of gas in the rotating disk can be also measured where there are no visible stars (labelled “No Stars”).

As a result it has been suggested that there is an invisible halo of cold non-interacting matter. This putative invisible halo has the needed gravitational effect on the stars and gases but it cannot be seen, hence it is called dark matter. Dark matter is alleged not to be normal atomic matter, made from protons and neutrons (which are known as baryons), but some sort of slowly moving (cold) exotic non-baryonic matter. Weakly Interacting Massive Particles (WIMPs) were suggested. Continue reading

A second gravitational wave has been detected by LIGO

The LIGO team reported on June 15, 2016, their second confirmed detection of coalescing binary black hole pair generating a gravitational wave. This was published in Physical Review Letters,1 with an abstract that reads (with some editing in […]’s and emphases added):

We report the observation of a gravitational-wave signal produced by the coalescence of two stellar-mass black holes. The signal, GW151226, was observed by the twin detectors of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) on December 26, 2015 at 03:38:53 UTC. The signal was initially identified within 70 s by an online matched-filter search targeting binary coalescences. Subsequent off-line analyses recovered GW151226 with a network signal-to-noise ratio of 13 and a significance greater than 5σ. The signal persisted in the LIGO frequency band for approximately 1 s, increasing in frequency and amplitude over about 55 cycles from 35 to 450 Hz, and reached a peak gravitational strain of [about] 3.4 × 10-22. The inferred source-frame initial black hole masses are 14.2  and 7.5 [solar masses, i.e. mass of the sun], and the final black hole mass is 20.8 [solar masses]. We find that at least one of the component black holes has spin greater than 0.2. This source is located at a luminosity distance of 440  Mpc [about 1.4 billion light-years] corresponding to a redshift of 0.09±0.03. All uncertainties define a 90% credible interval.

second g wave

Estimated gravitational-wave strain from GW151226 projected onto the LIGO Livingston detector with times relative to December 26, 2015 at 03:38:53.648 UTC. This shows the full bandwidth, without the filtering used for Fig. 1. Top: The 90% credible region for a nonprecessing spin waveform-model reconstruction (gray) and a direct, nonprecessing numerical solution of Einstein’s equations (red) with parameters consistent with the 90% credible region. Bottom: The gravitational-wave frequency f (left axis) computed from the numerical-relativity waveform. The cross denotes the location of the maximum of the waveform amplitude, approximately coincident with the merger of the two black holes. During the inspiral, f can be related to an effective relative velocity (right axis) given by the post-Newtonian parameter v/c=(GMπf/c^3)^1/3 , where M is the total mass. (Click on image for larger version.)

This result further strengthens the argument for stellar mass size black holes and for their correct prediction by Einstein’s general relativity. As I have written before this largely falls into the category of operational science. Some assumptions are necessarily required, but the waveform (see right) extracted from the received signal very precisely matches the expected waveform. Read What impact does the detection of gravitational waves have on biblical creation?2 Continue reading

Scientific evidences in the Bible: Information or misinformation?

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Figure 1: The Evidence Bible, with commentary by Ray Comfort. Living Waters Publications, USA.

It is not unusual to find Christian publications and websites1 extolling ancient scientific knowledge revealed in the Bible thousands of years ago. For example, see “Scientific Facts in the Bible,”2 which are claimed to be Answers from the Evidence Bible. I came upon this topic when asked to compile a list of genuine scientific knowledge revealed in the Bible between 2 to 4 thousand years ago. I collated my own list from what others wrote and from my own Bible searches.

In collating that list I found that there are many lines of evidence that are genuine examples of either a foreshadowing of true scientific knowledge that at the time given was yet to be discovered or clear Godly wisdom and knowledge known to those who read the Scriptures. But also I found that there is a significant amount of misinformation being disseminated. There are many examples given that could not possibly be interpreted, with any confidence, to mean what is claimed. The very same errors are repeated by many authors and websites.

glasses_on_bible_sm

Figure 2: We are admonished to study the scriptures (Acts 17:11) to prove all things (1 Thessalonians 5:21).

To put this into context, it must be understood that the Bible was not written as a scientific text or collection of scientific books. It contains some books that deal with history, some with prophecy, some with songs and poetry and some moral teachings, but, as the revealed Word of God, any book, where it touches on a scientific subject, will be scientifically accurate, even if no detail is given. The knowledge in those verses was revealed to mankind by the Holy Spirit and as such must be accurate.  But that does not mean we are not expected to test all things to correctly interpret the meanings. The true meaning of the Scriptures can survive any examination. Continue reading

What impact does the detection of gravitational waves have on biblical creation?

The discovery of gravitational waves

Figure 1: The gravitational-wave event GW150914 observed by the LIGO Hanford (H1, left column panels) and Livingston (L1, right column panels) detectors. Times are shown relative to 14 September 2015 at 09:50:45 UTC. For visualization, all time series are filtered with a 35–350 Hz bandpass filter to suppress large fluctuations outside the detectors’ most sensitive frequency band, and band-reject filters to remove the strong instrumental spectral lines. Top row, left: H1 strain. Top row, right: L1 strain. GW150914 arrived first at L1 and 6.9 ms later at H1; for a visual comparison, the H1 data are also shown, shifted in time by this amount and inverted (to account for the detectors’ relative orientations). Second row: Gravitational-wave strain projected onto each detector in the 35–350 Hz band. Solid lines show a numerical relativity waveform for a system with parameters consistent with those recovered from GW150914 confirmed to 99.9% by an independent calculation (details in original). Shaded areas show 90% credible regions for two independent waveform reconstructions. One (dark gray) models the signal using binary black hole template waveforms. The other (light gray) does not use an astrophysical model, but instead calculates the strain signal as a linear combination of sine-Gaussian wavelets. These reconstructions have a 94% overlap. Third row: Residuals after subtracting the filtered numerical relativity waveform from the filtered detector time series. Bottom row: A time-frequency representation of the strain data, showing the signal frequency increasing over time. (Caption edited from the original, Ref. 6)

Figure 1: The gravitational-wave event GW150914 observed by the LIGO Hanford (H1, left column panels) and Livingston (L1, right column panels) detectors. Times are shown relative to 14 September 2015 at 09:50:45 UTC. For visualization, all time series are filtered with a 35–350 Hz bandpass filter to suppress large fluctuations outside the detectors’ most sensitive frequency band, and band-reject filters to remove the strong instrumental spectral lines. Top row, left: H1 strain. Top row, right: L1 strain. GW150914 arrived first at L1 and 6.9 ms later at H1; for a visual comparison, the H1 data are also shown, shifted in time by this amount and inverted (to account for the detectors’ relative orientations). Second row: Gravitational-wave strain projected onto each detector in the 35–350 Hz band. Solid lines show a numerical relativity waveform for a system with parameters consistent with those recovered from GW150914 confirmed to 99.9% by an independent calculation (details in original). Shaded areas show 90% credible regions for two independent waveform reconstructions. One (dark gray) models the signal using binary black hole template waveforms. The other (light gray) does not use an astrophysical model, but instead calculates the strain signal as a linear combination of sine-Gaussian wavelets. These reconstructions have a 94% overlap. Third row: Residuals after subtracting the filtered numerical relativity waveform from the filtered detector time series. Bottom row: A time-frequency representation of the strain data, showing the signal frequency increasing over time. (Caption edited from the original, Ref. 6.)

On 14 September 2015 at 09:50:45 UTC the two gravitational wave detectors of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO)—one at Hanford, Washington and the other at Livingston, Louisiana—simultaneously observed a transient gravitational-wave signal. The signal exhibited the classic waveform predicted by Einstein’s general relativity theory for a binary black hole merger, sweeping up in frequency from 35 to 250 Hz, and exhibited a peak gravitational-wave strain of 1.0 × 1021 at the detectors.1

The two detectors recorded the same signal, which matched the predicted waveform for the inspiral and merger of a pair of black holes and the ringdown of the resulting single black hole. The signal was observed with a matched-filter signal-to-noise ratio of 24 and a false alarm rate estimated to be less than 1 event per 203,000 years, equivalent to a statistical significance greater than 5.1σ (where 1σ represents 1 standard deviation).2 In other words, the detection is highly likely to be real.

The source lies at a luminosity distance of about 1.3 billion light-years corresponding to a redshift z ≈ 0.09.3 The two initial black hole masses were 36 M and 29 M,4,5 and the final black hole mass is 62 M, with the equivalent of 3 M radiated as gravitational waves. The observations demonstrate for the first time the existence of a binary stellar-mass black hole system but, more importantly, the first direct detection of gravitational waves and the first observation of a binary black hole merger. Continue reading

On the origin of universes by means of natural selection

—or, blinded by big bang blackness

The origin of our universe is a vexing problem for the atheist. The very state of the observable universe today presents serious problems for them, as it demands a Creator. Why did the universe begin in such an organised state, where laws are finely tuned for life to exist, and where irreversible processes occur producing the forward­­ march of time?

In thinking on the nature of the universe and our existence within it, the Greeks developed the philosophies of rationalismand empiricism2, two different approaches they believed could determine truth from the world. The former involved deduction,3 and the latter, induction.4 No reference to a Creator God was considered relevant.

The modern cosmologist, one who attempts to explain the origin of a rational universe, with laws derived from observation, is one who believes he can, by inductive reasoning alone, discover its origin without the Creator.

The atheists say the rational mind concludes that there is no God, therefore the universe is the outcome of pure materialism.5 Then how do we explain how the universe came to be? How do we, by induction alone, explain the origin of the laws of physics? And how do we test if our explanations are correct? These are fundamental epistemological6 questions that need to be answered. Continue reading