My hobby is astronomy. I love to be outside feeling the wind on my face, listening to the night sounds and looking at God’s creation overhead. Of course, the looking at God’s creation part is difficult because of NJ light pollution. The light dome from the metropolitan area prevents me from seeing fainter objects like galaxies. So I have become a variable star astronomer. Because stars are focused points of light, rather than larger and more diffuse areas of light like galaxies, faint stars cut through the light pollution. I look at these faint little dots and guess their magnitude. Since they are variable stars, the magnitude changes all of the time, and I submit my guesswork to an organization that collects the data. Magnitude estimates from amateur astronomers worldwide are used to create light curves, which are studied by professional astronomers who look for patterns in the data. It’s all very mundane work, but it gets me outside and looking at the night sky. It also has me studying the evolution of stars and how these magnificent creations glorify God.
T Tauri stars are called eruptive variable stars. If our Sun is considered middle aged, these sun-like stars are pre-teens. They have not developed the convection currents that the Sun has to regulate heat throughout the gas envelope. They are also surrounded by clouds of gas and dust called accretion disks that help the stars gain in size. All of these conditions create extreme volatility in T Tauri stars. The heat builds up inside the star without a proper way of regulating it and they explode. The explosions are not big enough to destroy the star, but they are big enough to affect the surrounding accretion disk. If there is a planet in orbit with the beginnings of life on it, those creatures would be destroyed. The environment surrounding a T Tauri star is extremely hostile and so living things would have to wait until the star starts up the convection currents, gobbles up most of the accretion disk and settles down into a more mature phase, called the Main Sequence. Our Sun went through a T Tauri phase, and now we live in a nice quiet place in the universe where we can happily look through our telescopes and watch the fireworks happen in other parts of the cosmos.
Most scientists believe that it has taken 5 billion years to reach this nice quiet point in our Sun’s lifetime. Many Bible scholars can’t reconcile that timeline with the one found in the Old Testament. I say that we are too concerned about time. We are limited to living within a timeline, but God is not. “The LORD sits enthroned over the flood; the LORD is enthroned as King forever” (Psalm 29:10). God is eternal and God has no limits, “Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit” (Psalm 147:5). Since God is not limited by anything, God is not limited by time.
Because time is so important to us, we become blinded by it and cannot see the big picture. The famous passage from Ecclesiastes chapter 3:1 says; “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.” The universe is created and shaped in God’s time. If God decrees that the Sun lives for 10 billion years, then that is the right amount of time for the Sun to exist. God sees and understands the big picture; we struggle to comprehend tiny pieces of it. Therefore, God knows what is best. It is often difficult for us to understand that.
The stars I measure, some of which are T Tauri stars, change over long periods of time. Variable star observation requires a lot of patience. But every once in a while, one of these stars erupt without any warning. Suddenly a star that can be barely seen in a telescope is bright enough to see without one. That is what makes the T Tauri stars magical. “The heavens declare the glory of God” (Psalm 19:1) and they do this in God’s good time.