March 14th, 2015| Topic: RaMbLeS | 2


They found dust. Yup, dust! Two billion-plus light years away.

Dust is actually quite important in the formation of the universe—planets and stars. But apparently there wasn’t any in the beginning, at the time of the Big Bang (about 14 billion years ago, they say). The early galaxies had only gas, mostly hydrogen and helium (plus dark matter).

Dust—carbon (fine soot) or silicates (fine sand). When stars get old and die as supernovas, the explosions release cosmic dust. This is a very slow process and takes a looooong time.

But now researchers from the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen have found an early galaxy (13 billion years old, they say) that has a lot of dust. So they claimed in Nature recently, in “A Dusty, Normal Galaxy in the Epoch of Reionization.”

Said Darach Wilson, lead author and astrophysicist at the most-intriguingly-named Dark Cosmology Centre (sounds like something from Hogwarts, run by the Slytherins).

Although the exact origin of galactic dust remains obscure, our findings indicate that its production occurs very rapidly, within only 500 million years of the beginning of star formation in the Universe—a very short cosmological time frame, given that most stars live for billions of years. … It is a galaxy of modest size and yet it is already full of dust. This is very surprising and it tells us that ordinary galaxies were enriched with heavier elements far faster than expected.”

In other words, the dust accumulated very quickly. Far quicker than scientists had estimated so far.

[Almost as fast as it does in my house. And that’s without supernovas exploding.]

It all happened in a  distant, dusty,  old galaxy, with the stunning name, A1689-zD1. Two billion or more light years away.

Things that are so far away are usually hard to spot. But Einstein came to the rescue. His theory of relativity predicted the phenomenon of “gravitational lensing,” which helped out the “Dark Cosmologists” here: gravity from an object closer to Earth can warp light from a more distant one. Another cluster of galaxies lying between A1689-zD1 and the earth causes the light from the latter to be refracted by the gravity of the former, amplifying the distant galaxy. A “lucky” location!

Wilson again:

It is the first time that dust has been found in such an early galaxy. The process of star formation must therefore have started very early in the history of the universe and be associated with the formation of dust. The detection of large amounts of solid material shows that the galaxy was enriched very early with solids.”

All that to say: Who knows what’s going on?

Oh, but that has an easy answer!

Do you not know? Have you not heard?
Has it not been declared to you from the beginning?
Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?
It is He who sits above the circle of the earth,
And its inhabitants are like grasshoppers,
Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain
And spreads them out like a tent to dwell in.
Lift up your eyes on high
And see who has created these stars,
The One who leads forth their host by number,
He calls them all by name;
Because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power,
Not one of them is missing.
Isaiah 40:21–22, 26

Who knows? God does.

And so we can rest easy in the arms of the same God who …

Like a shepherd … will tend His flock,
In His arm He will gather the lambs
And carry them in His bosom.
Isaiah 40:11


  1. Nancy Drew March 15, 2015 at 9:45 pm

    Those verses from Isaiah 40 have been my very favorite Bible verses for many years. According to them, we are “like grasshoppers.” Yet Zephaniah 3:17 tells us that He will comfort us with His love and rejoice over us with singing. Only a truly awesome God could care for His grasshoppers so tenderly.


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