The Nebular Hypothesis of Solar System Formation – Let’s Pretend!

When it comes to scientific theory, our educational system teaches the current paradigms in terms that make it appear that science has figured everything out.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  So science majors, don’t lose hope.  Hypotheses like the big bang, the nebular theory of solar system formation, the evolution of stars, biological evolution, plate tectonics and geology in general, paleontology, and astronomy and no doubt other paradigms for other sciences are terribly inadequate to explain reality.  The chemical theory works as does most of our Newtonian physics.  But many hypotheses do not explain reality and many are based on scanty knowledge, holding to materialism as the only viable and adequate means of explanation; regardless of facts to the opposite.






Good scientific observations made today continue to be interpreted in the light of failed theory.  For instance, a recent work on a star named Eridani is said to suggest it has a large amount of debris and dust floating around it as well as, possibly, one planet[i]. Though it took several years of computer analysis and model building of the infrared light data to allow interpretation of these observations into a meaningful hypothesis, the new solar system is proposed to be very young; at least 5 times younger than our own solar system.  The star is some 10 light years from earth.  The researcher, Marengo, of Iowa State University has been studying the star since 2004.  The fine dust and debris that is believed to form a disk around the star suggest to Marengo that the solar system is in its infancy.  The report suggests that asteroids and comets are also part of the solar system’s arrangement.

Epsilon Eridani’s infrared signature


Artistic reconstruction.


It should be quickly noted that other researchers since Marengo’s report have grave doubts about his interpretation.  Nonetheless, given the hypothesis that our solar system formed from gases and debris from the interaction of several supernovae, Marengo says that, “This star hosts a planetary system currently undergoing the same cataclysmic processes that happened to the solar system in its youth, at the time in which the moon gained most of its craters, Earth acquired the water in its oceans, and the conditions favorable for life on our planet were set,” (Science Daily, May 2, 2017).

The speculative “cataclysmic forces that formed earth.”


While the description of another solar system is exciting, understanding how and why the data from the star is being described as a developing solar system leads us to examine the current theory of solar system formation.  After all, if what is observed and interpreted is to be believed as a star with planets developing around it and a debris field of leftover dust and rocks, how would we know this is the case unless we have a credible understanding of solar system formation?



The current theory of how our solar system came to be is called the Nebular Hypothesis:


In 1734 A Swedish scientist and mystic named Emanuel Swedenborg suggest that the Sun and planets formed from the condensation of nebulous gas and dust (he learned this from a mystic). In the last 300 years, this idea has been batted about and modified to create a more credible and detailed story as to how this might have been possible.  We have learned that heavy metals like iron and gold can only be formed by natural means under powers that cannot be summoned by mankind.  Only the forces of a supernova explosion of a dying star are believed to have the power to create such elements.  Therefore a star that once existed before the Sun must have died by supernova; leaving the remnants of a nebula behind.

Building on this idea (proposed by a mystic) astronomers, realizing that gravity would never cause gases or dust in space to collapse to form rocks or planets or stars, have decided that a second supernova explosion must have created a force from a tidal wave of other gases to push the nebula together.  This is believed to have forced the collapse of gas by secondary forces like gravity to form a protoplanetary disk.  As the disk formed the materials began to rotate out of convenience rather than science.  As the rotation continued the densest gas center collapsed further and at some point ignited by atomic fusion to create the Sun.  Over eons, the rest of the dust formed rocks and boulders and then planetoids and finally planets.  The inner planets being rocky and the outer planets gaseous.   And so, 5 billion years later after the cloud formed, we have the solar system as we know it.


The Nebular Hypothesis.

Now, if this “natural history” of the formation of the solar system is true then we should have good evidence from the solar system that this was a reasonable hypothesis and should be applied to explain what is happening near other stars.  But before we get too far, it should be noted that Swedenborg’s hypothesis did not originate from any scientific facts that he had in order to postulate such a thought.  He claimed that Martian spirits had communed with him and told him that the solar system was the

The ghosts of Mars.

result of the condensation of an enormous space cloud[ii].  It is only fair that we are armed with an understanding of where some of mankind’s “best guesses” come from so that we can weigh the validity of the consensus opinion on such spectacular hypotheses.  Swedenborg was a mystic and a believer in ghosts on Mars.  Where he got this idea is not known but one suggestion is that he got it from a medium.  At any rate, from this delusion, he proposed that the solar system came from nebulous clouds.  Today, nebulae mean space clouds but back then it described a haze, a fuzz or distortion or indescribable feature forming a cloud.  From this rather preposterous idea, other men kicked the idea around until gravity was discovered and forces as powerful as supernova were encountered.  The rest is history but it is also clearly mythological.

[Some other thoughts of Swedenborg: In Earths in the Universe, it is stated that he conversed with spirits from Jupiter, Mars, Mercury, Saturn, Venus, and the Moon, as well as spirits from planets beyond our solar system. From these ‘encounters’ he concluded that the planets of our solar system are inhabited, and that such an enormous undertaking as the universe could not have been created for just one race of people; nor one ‘heaven’ derived from it.

In 1743, Swedenborg was dining in a private room at a tavern in London. By the end of the meal, a darkness fell upon his eyes, and the room shifted character. Suddenly he saw a person sitting at a corner of the room, telling Swedenborg: “Do not eat too much!“. Swedenborg, scared, hurried home. Later that night, the same man appeared in his dreams. The man told Swedenborg that He was the Lord, that He had appointed Swedenborg to reveal the spiritual meaning of the Bible, and that He would guide Swedenborg in what to write. The same night, the spiritual world was opened to Swedenborg.  Or so we are told.]

If we test the power of the nebular hypothesis to predict and to explain the features of the only known solar system we have concrete information about, our own, we should be able to quickly determine if the idea of the evolution of the solar system from dust and gas has any credible power to enlighten us.  This is called testing the hypothesis.  If it fails, we may need a new hypothesis.

  1. No one knows where this nebulous gas came from.  Some postulate that the death of an original star may have formed a great cloud.  But supernova explosions don’t leave materials to float – nebulously about.  Gas and dust (whatever that is) surviving such an explosion would expand forever under the force of the explosion and the vacuum of space.  But let’s pretend there is a gas cloud.
  2. Gravity does not work on individual atoms very well. In the vacuum of space, gravity has very little control.  This is why Mars has a very little atmosphere and the Moon has none.    The planet and the moon do not have sufficient gravity to hold the atmosphere. This is why helium is lost from planets every day. So how does one get atoms like helium and argon and iron and gold to coalesce together to form larger particles until those particles are large enough to be visible?  How do these visible dusty particles continue to attract one another and more importantly, stick together without some glue?  Hence the need for a second supernova.  This one creates a wave of gaseous material to force the cloud to condense.  The force of this wave causes a critical density in the gas cloud which then becomes gravitationally strong enough to begin to seed star formation. Unfortunately, neither physics nor computer modeling support this possibility.  The density of

    A Hubble photo of a nebula.

    the cloud would have to come from materials, according to some calculations, 35000 times the current mass of the sun.  And if a star was created by such a mass, even if that mass spun off enough matter to achieve the size of the Sun, the rotational velocity of the Sun would be 35,000 times faster than it is right now.  The sun would complete a rotation in several minutes instead of the 25 earth days that it takes right now.  But, let’s pretend gravity kicked in any way.

  3. To explain why the sun rotates and the planets rotate around the sun as they rotate on their own axis, the collapse of the matter in the cloud would need to begin to rotate. Forces from a supernova explosion do not and should not be expected to create or sustain rotational eddies.  In fact, the rotation of objects in an explosion, should there be one, is not sustained in an explosion ( a good reason why the Big Bang hypothesis is also a failure).  But let’s pretend that the collapsing gases begin to rotate as they collapsed.  At some point when these objects take shape, they will be rotating.  This is convenient for magnetic fields to form around each object and for night and day to occur on some planets.
  4. Now as the sun begins to form in the center of this cloud… wait! A supernova explosion is

    The crab nebula

    directional.  Even if gases began to collapse in the vacuum of space and even if the gases began to rotate, it is not likely that there is a center for anything caused by such a disturbance.  The whole of the mass of gas would be pushed in a direction like a wave of the sea… and without a barrier or a single nucleus around which to begin to condense why would anyone think that there is a center to this gaseous explosion?  But, let’s pretend that the collapsing gases begin to rotate as the collapse formed a dense center that will become the sun.

  5. Now as the sun begins to form in the center of this cloud, material surrounding the center begins to condense independent of this center. Eddies of gaseous dusty material form their own center and their own gravity which happens not once but at least 8 times and 9 if you count Pluto.   And eddies form near these eddies which eventually form moons for these planetary bodies which will all circle the sun when the evolution of this

    Remnants of a supernova.

    story is done.  Now, none of the eddies can be explained nor can the differences in the composition of planets though they were all supposedly formed from the same dusty-cloudy-stuff. But, let’s pretend these and many other eddies formed anyway to test the hypothesis.

  6. Once the planets have formed for some reason we find that there is no dust or debris between planets except for the asteroid belt found between Mars and Jupiter. So although there should be massive evidence for the formation of planetesimals and other debris between the planets left over from the nebular condensation we must pretend that the larger planets swept up this debris when they were forming, except for the asteroid belt – even though we know this is not possible.
  7. Now if the Sun and the planets formed from a common dust cloud one would expect to find a shared rotational angular momentum from the rotating collapsing matter. The Sun has 99% of all the matter in the solar system.  It should have an angular momentum that is far greater than it

    This image of the region surrounding the reflection nebula Messier 78, just to the north of Orion’s belt, shows clouds of cosmic dust threaded through the nebula like a string of pearls. Shown here in orange, use the heat glow of interstellar dust grains to show astronomers where new stars are being formed. They are overlaid on a view of the region in visible light.

    does.  The planets seem to have most of the angular momentum though they are only less than 1% of the matter.  But let’s pretend that something happened to reverse the scenario to give us what we have today.  Otherwise, the momentum required to account for the angular momentum of the gravitational collapse of the sun would have been so great that the sun would have been a pancake rotating around a very thin equator just like a vinyl record album of my youth.  Most likely such an occurrence would have thrown the matter of the spinning sun into outer space and we would have no solar system.  So, let’s pretend it happened the way we need it to happen anyway.

  8. There are of course many other problems we encounter in our solar system that cannot be explained by the nebular hypothesis. For one, why did moons form and remain at the distances they hold from their planet without falling into the planet when all the debris surrounding the sun got swept up by the gravity of the planets?  Why does our moon rotate only once every 28 days effectively keeping one side from ever being seen by us?  Why does Venus rotate in

    Space dust: most beautiful.

    clockwise, east to west fashion (opposite earth’s rotation) and Uranus rotate east to west but with its axis always pointed to the sun?  Why didn’t Mars grow larger than the Earth as it formed and as the nebular theory predicts?  Why are there gas giants at distances from the sun where there should be none?  Why do planets have molten cores since gravity alone cannot account for this kind of heat?



Great heterogeneity among the planets and their rotation.


We can make up stories like collisions between asteroids and planets to explain away what doesn’t fit the nebular hypothesis.  We can calculate how much radioactivity is needed by the earth to account for our molten core’s existence. We can make up a lot of scenarios that just don’t allow the nebular hypothesis to account for anything from a scientific point of view. But then, why bother?  Why hold onto the nebular hypothesis, given to us by the ghosts of Mars when it, in fact, it violates all the laws of physics and explains nothing?


One might say that by developing such a theory we can attempt to explain the disk complex formed by the star, Eridani.  We can further speculate that what is happening there, if it is happening at all can be used to further explain what has happened here in our own solar system, four billion years ago.  But really, does it make sense to make up a theory that doesn’t explain anything only to apply it to things we know much less about in order to extrapolate what this means to our own unknown Earth history?

But, maybe I digress!

We are told that “determining the structure of the disk was a complex effort that took several years and detailed computer modeling… The astronomers had to separate the faint emission of the disk from the much brighter light coming from the star.”

“But we can now say with great confidence that there is a separation between the star’s inner and outer belts,” Marengo said. “There is a gap most likely created by planets. We haven’t detected them yet, but I would be surprised if they are not there. Seeing them will require using the next-generation instrumentation, perhaps NASA’s 6.5-meter James Webb Space Telescope scheduled for launch in October 2018.”

We are further told: “That’s a lot of time and attention on one nearby star and its debris disk. But Marengo said it really is taking astronomers back in time.”

I must ask, really?

“The prize at the end of this road is to understand the true structure of Epsilon Eridani’s out-of-this-world disk, and its interactions with the cohort of planets likely inhabiting its system,” Marengo wrote in a newsletter story about the project. “SOFIA, [the infrared technology used to gather this data ] by its unique ability to capture infrared light in the dry stratospheric sky, is the closest we have to a time machine, revealing a glimpse of Earth’s ancient past by observing the presence of a nearby young sun.”


Our speculative solar system from afar.

Really?  Have we learned anything in such interpretations that are not simply pure make believe and speculation?

This is not the only example of science at its best and worse.  Many who read popular science as is found in Scientific America, National Geographic, The Smithsonian, The Humanist, and Science Daily will feel informed by such nonsense and without critically understanding about the things that are “supposing” many will go away believing we have all things figured out when in fact it is just pretend.



In light of the facts about our own solar system, we can see that the created order of things shows deliberation and intention more clearly than random events.  When random events are not reasonable or useful to explain reality we should not deny the possibility of creation; a creation of supernatural dimensions.  Without getting all religious about it, the facts are clear that such a universe of galaxies, stars and worlds is not explained by anything natural.  This leaves only one conclusion.  Things that exist are not made from things that are but rather from the mind of a creative intelligence.   These are the facts and we may never understand the mechanisms of such a power.  It appears to fall into the area of a miracle.  And who am I to argue that?


“One of the determining forces of scientism was a fantastic occidental imagination which could explain every irregularity in the solar system without explanation, leap the gaps in the atomic series without evidence [a leap required by the Big Bang theory], postulate the discovery of fossils which have never been discovered, and prophesy the success of breeding experiments which have never succeeded. Of this kind of science it might truly be said that it was ‘knowledge falsely so called.’ “*David C. C. Watson, The Great Brain Robbery (1976).





[i] The Inner 25 au Debris Distribution in the epsilon Eri System

Kate Y. L. Su1, James M. De Buizer2, George H. Rieke1, Alexander V. Krivov3, Torsten Löhne3, Massimo Marengo4, Karl R. Stapelfeldt5, Nicholas P. Ballering1, and William D. Vacca2

Published 2017 April 25 • © 2017. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.

The Astronomical Journal, Volume 153, Number 5

[ii] Lachièze-Rey, Marc, and Jean-Pierre Luminet. Celestial treasury: from the music of the spheres to the conquest of space. Cambridge University Press, 2001.

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