DALLAS, Texas — Using data from the Kepler spacecraft, a Christian astrophysicist in Texas has discovered a new planet the size of seven Earths orbiting the star KPLR 7826659.
Dr. Jason Lisle, the director of physical sciences at the Dallas-based Institute for Creation Research, made the announcement on May 4 after analyzing a measurable drop in the host star’s brightness during a period in which the planet crossed in front of the celestial body.
“The way it works is a planet will occasionally cross directly in front of its star as seen from Earth, and that causes a slight drop in the star’s brightness because the planet is essentially casting its shadow on the Earth,” he told Christian News Network. “Kepler can measure that drop in brightness, and that tells us the size of the planet relative to its star.”
The Kepler spacecraft had been launched in 2009 for the purpose of researching stars in the Milky Way, as well as their exoplanets. Using a photometer, Kepler records the brightness of more than 145,000 stars and transmits the data to Earth.
Lisle explained that in utilizing the information, thousands of planets have been discovered orbiting stars—a number of which he independently corroborated during the course of his research.
But while KPLR 7826659 had been marked as a “potential candidate” in the Kepler archives, nothing had yet been published to confirm that there was indeed a planet orbiting the bright light.
“That’s what made this one very exciting for me as I’m apparently the first to confirm that there is a real planet orbiting that star,” he stated.
Lisle, who reported the find to Planet Hunters, said that the discovery was also fascinating because it defies secular reasoning that large planets do not orbit in close proximity to their host star.
“Secularists expect that Jupiter-size planets can only form far away from their star, … and yet this planet is almost as big as Jupiter—not quite—and yet it’s orbiting very close to its star contrary to secular expectations, but perfectly consistent with the diversity that the Lord has built into His universe,” he outlined.
The nationally-recognized creation speaker noted that researchers have only “scratched the surface” of the vastness of God’s handiwork.
“Current technology would only allow us to discover a planet like this if it happens to cross directly in front of its star,” Lisle explained. “Presumably there are many other stellar systems that are tilted—relative to ours—and so the planets never cross in front of their star, and those remain undetected at the moment.”
“It just shows you that God has a lot of gems out there that are yet to be discovered,” he said.
Isaiah 40:26 reads, “Look up and see: who created these? He brings out the starry host by number; He calls all of them by name. Because of His great power and strength, not one of them is missing.”