puzzling in light of the Nice Model for
the origin of the outer solar system.
In the Nice Model, Pluto would have
begun as one of many other large
planetesimals in the region between
approximately 20 and 30 AU in the
early solar system before Neptune
migrated outward to its current orbit.
In current theories, planet migration
facilitates objects coming into orbital
resonances. Thus, Neptune and Uranus
migrated outward in the Nice Model
and this migration is believed to
explain how Pluto could come to be
in the unique 3: 2 orbit resonance that
it has with Neptune. But as Neptune
migrated outward in the Nice Model,
Pluto and Charon, as well as the
four small satellites, would have to
survive the migration and migrate
with Neptune. It is thought Pluto
and Charon had to form early, before
Neptune’s migration, because the large
collision forming Charon requires
an extremely low relative velocity
between the impactor striking Pluto
and Pluto itself. 16 This low velocity
would seem to only be possible early in
the solar system, not later as Neptune is
migrating or after Neptune excited the
instability that scattered planetesimals
in the outer solar system. Although
computer simulations do show that
some satellites can stay in orbit around
a migrating planet, their orbits are
altered. It is often just assumed that
after their orbits are altered they would
stabilize and eventually circularize. But
it is not at all clear this would work.
Also, the Nice migration scenario
requires millions of years, which
conflicts with a young-age timescale.
The rotation rates of the small
satellites of Pluto require more
research and better data. There is a
need to have better photos of Styx,
Nix, Kerberos, and Hydra. There is
also a need to know their sizes and
densities to more precision. The high
spin rate of Hydra is so fast that the
other small satellites and even Charon
would have little effect on it. Small
collisions could help explain the
spins of Styx, Nix, and Kerberos, but
Hydra requires a different explanation.
Another significant fact is that the New
Horizons spacecraft did not discover
any additional new small satellites
of Pluto during the flyby. This was
surprising to planetary scientists.
If the four small satellites formed
in a collision event, it seems likely
more small objects would have been
found. Therefore, whether the small
satellites originated early at the time
Charon formed or they were captured
later, there are serious problems with
explaining their origin. If they formed
early along with Charon, why would
their composition be so different than
Charon and different from other Kuiper
Belt objects? Currently planetary
scientists seem to have no workable
theory for the naturalistic origin of the
four small satellites of Pluto.
A creation perspective is likely to
find support from the Pluto system
from the difficulties with naturalistic
models. However, I would recommend
that creationists should avoid draw-
ing too many conclusions too early,
especially regarding young-age argu-
ments. Creationists should watch
the ongoing research on the Pluto
system. The small satellites of Pluto
are in a complex dynamic relationship
with Charon and Pluto. Computer
simulations of satellites of Pluto
show that many orbit configurations
are unstable or do not end up as
circular, like we find the orbits today.
The unusual spins of the small satel-
lites of Pluto may never reach a
‘tidal lock’ configuration due to the
unique influence of Charon and the
way the small satellites influence
each other. Hydra’s extremely rapid
spin is mysterious. I have found it
most fruitful to assume that most
characteristics of things in the solar
system stem from how they were
created in the Creation Week, several
thousand years ago. In a young-age
timescale many processes assumed to
have operated for millions of years by
secular scientists have not had time to
make significant change. Long periods
of time and natural processes do not
solve scientific mysteries. But, not
every feature goes back to creation.
Catastrophic and chaotic events
are possible in the solar system.
But our solar system exhibits both
intelligently designed order and
surprising creative features that point
to a powerful Creator.
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