Stellar Astronomy: Part 2 – The Composition of Stars

In part 1, we examined how to measure the distance to relatively nearby stars using parallax.  We then showed how astronomers compute the luminosity of a star by comparing its apparent brightness with its distance.  This shows that stars are comparable in brightness to the sun.  But how do we know that stars have the same composition as the sun?  For that matter, how do we know what the sun is made of? 

Quantum Particles: Gauge Bosons

In Christ all things are held together (Colossians 1:17).  Since God is an intelligent and logical Being Who holds the universe together by His power, and since we are made in His image and have revelation from Him, it is possible for us to discover some of the logical patterns by which Christ holds His universe together.  There are four fundamental forces in nature, each of which is an expression of the mathematical way God’s mind upholds creation.  Each of these four forces is associated with quantum particles called gauge bosons.  These gauge bosons are the glue that holds matter together.  When we study these forces, we are learning something about the mind of God.

Quantum Particles: Mesons

The Lord has determined the laws of nature and the kinds of particles that can exist so that our universe has the right properties for life.  Biology is possible because of chemistry, which is possible because of physics: the elementary particles God created and the rules governing them.  A slight change in the properties of particles or the laws they obey, and atoms could not exist and biological life would be impossible.  The intelligence needed to construct the right particles and laws such that biological life can exist is far beyond the combined mental capacity of all people who have ever lived.  Quantum particles give us a bit of insight into the infinite mind of the Lord.

Quantum Particles: Baryons

The Lord created certain types of fundamental particles and also determined the rules these particles obey. These are what allow for the rich diversity of substances in the universe today. We here consider baryons – the substance of the cosmos. We will find that baryons confirm biblical creation and challenge secular explanations.

Quantum Particles: Quarks

In the core of every atom is a nucleus consisting of one or more protons, and (except for hydrogen) some neutrons as well.  Protons and neutrons are responsible for most of the mass of an atom.  The electrons “orbit” around this central nucleus, generally in equal numbers to the protons, which makes the overall atom electrically neutral.  Electrons are elementary – meaning they are not made of any smaller particles.  But protons and neutrons are composite particles; they are made of smaller particles called quarks.