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Quasar

Created by Finrod. Last Edited by Finrod. Tagged as: Ideas, Places
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Talk to anybody ‘knowledgeable’ in the field of astronomy about these things, and they will tell you that quasars are smallish (because they can show rapid changes in brightness), extremely distant objects (because their spectral lines – ‘benchmarks’, so to speak, in the rainbow of light that they produce – show enormous red shifts) and therefore, because of their supposed immense distance from us, must be extremely bright to be seen at all.

Not necessarily so!

I have been interested in this since I found out about the work of Dr. Halton Arp (his website is here) and the evidence that he assembled for his book Quasars, Red Shifts and Controversies (Cambridge University Press, 1988).

He makes a telling case for quasars being associated in space with galaxies which – according to the orthodox view – are supposedly much nearer to us than the quasar(s) in the sky around them. One galaxy (M82 – a real oddball in the galactic league even before you start on quasars) has apparently coughed out four quasars from its nucleus, all in the same direction. Well, closely enough to convince me that there’s something afoot here.

The basic problem is that a seemingly innocent and innocuous phrase like ‘red shift anomaly’ utterly rocks the standard theory about the Universe, which - putting it simply - most people know as the Big Bang, from its foundations to its pinnacle.

So most conventional astronomers just like to sweep it under the cosmological carpet, dismissing his work disdainfully.

Not I. And I did read his book very carefully.

The next-to-last image added shows a computer-enhanced view of a galaxy (catalogued as NGC 4319) and a much smaller quasar (Markarian 205, top right-hand corner of the image). The latter is supposedly much further away (NASA says 1 billion light-years, as opposed to only 80 million for the galaxy), as it has a much higher red shift value.

The only problem with this is that you can clearly see a bridge between the two. You can even discern it from photos taken by amateurs.

NASA's breathtaking official line on this is "Appearances can be deceiving" (I think they mean deceptive)... which smacks strongly of Cardinal Bellarmine's refusal to look through Galileo's telescope to see Galileo's discovery of the moons of Jupiter, on the grounds that he simply knew they couldn't be there...

The last image added is of the galaxy NGC 7319, one of the grouping known as Stephan's Quintet.

It has a quasar in front of it.

 

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NomiLove
NomiLove posted over 7 years ago

Ah, red shifts! Absolutely fascinating. I have been reading about them in relation to the event horizons of black holes. (Not that I really understand any of this, but it does intrigue me.)

Finrod
Finrod posted over 7 years ago

[After I wrote the comment on your own page]

Indeed. I don’t often take the heterodox or heretic position, but this man’s been virtually ignored for 20+ years – and I meticulously worked through his research in the 1990’s.

There’s something really odd here, because the red shifts of quasars appear – hell, they obviously arequantised. That is, they group around certain separated values, rather than being evenly distributed (as you might expect).

Finrod
Finrod posted over 7 years ago

I've added a new image and rejigged the description. Any comments welcome, people.

belacqua
belacqua posted over 7 years ago
Admittedly I'm more that sceptical about Arp's decades old, quite speculative theories. Current research does not seem to support those very well. And as far as I know Arp's theories have been rejected after being evaluated.

It seems more likely that there is a different explanation for some of the phenomena Arp describes. Wouldn't be the first time. Once there was a big brouhaha about jets that seemed to move with a velocity greater that the speed of light. Turned out to be nothing but a sophisticated optical illusion.

As for the description, IMHO it very well explains Arp's intentions. I'd just be careful with formulations like "you can clearly see a bridge between the two". First, many things in deep space seem to be connected, but in fact are just accidentally appearing so, this is not Bellarministic, rather a matter of experience. Second, astronomers are (mostly) not blind; if there is something going on, it is not obvious. Every researcher knows the people who clearly proved that special relativity is wrong, that a perpetuum mobile is possible, or that the angle can be trisected. This often goes hand in hand with conspiracy theories about a scientific community that tries to suppress this insight. Better not endorse the impression that Arp is one of those is maybe what I'm trying to say in far too many words.
Finrod
Finrod posted over 7 years ago

Whilst I take some of the wilder speculations associated with this area (which seem to come under the heading 'Electric Universe') to be as useful as the books of Immanuel Velikovsky - which I discovered in my local library and read with much mirth many years ago - I remain convinced that there is something missing here in the orthodox approach.

I've never been too enthusiastic about gravitational lenses, for example (though I try to keep an open mind), especially where they are invoked to produce an 'Einstein Cross' of four quasars directly in front of a galaxy, as opposed to beside it as theory seems to demand. One has to be alert to what seems to make sense, and a lot of what is talked about deep space just doesn't to me.

I'm also aware that no less a figure than Arthur C. Clarke felt able in print (I forget where) to take a huge swipe at Einstein's Principle of Equivalence - that an accelerated frame of reference and a gravitational field cannot be distinguished (on the grounds that the one is linear and the other radial). Mainstream astronomers seem to think that there can't be anything wrong with Special or General Relativity and that it is 'correct' (a most un-scientific thing to do - you can't prove a theory, only disprove it).

We mustn't forget that many classical physicists in the 19th century rejected atoms and 'other fictions' (I cannot track who said that - but I do know Boltzmann committed suicide) until they were faced with the ultraviolet catastrophe and the photo-electric effect, each of which showed it to be inadequate to its task. The subsequent development of the idea of quanta (separate 'packets' of energy rather than continuous, infinitely divisible flow) by the conservative Max Planck revolutionised the Weltanschauung of scientists.

I'm not arguing here that all of Arp's assertions are right; I'm just stirring the waters a little. And I'm acutely aware that he used to work as the assistant of Edwin Hubble - who wasn't at all deficient in shrewdness.

Phew! I hope none of that reads as pretentious. Well, I can always edit it.

Thanks for your acute comments, bel!

Finrod
Finrod posted over 7 years ago

How about this, bel? It's not a publication I've ever read with enthusiasm and there's one or two errors in the text, but it seems to be mainstream (I could link to all sorts of wacky pages but I'm refraining from associating myself with them in any way).

One wonders why the 'gravitational lens' explanation was invoked in the case of the 'Einstein Cross' but not here.

Oh, and bel - I remember those 'superluminal' jets and will return to the subject later.

Finrod
Finrod posted over 7 years ago
Here's an amazon.com page reviewing his new book (which, to my shame, I have only just discovered! Embarassed I'm surprised amazon didn't tell me about it, because I've bought a lot of books like this from them).
Finrod
Finrod posted over 7 years ago

[Edit: Link in question now fixed, so the following exchange between me and belacqua is superfluous - Finrod]

 

I've been alerted by a friend who hasn't (yet) commented on this page that the link in the last comment but one doesn't work. I've tried it myself (it doesn't) and attempted to fix it (I can't. I don't see why it won't work).

The address works through Google and is:

http://www.spectroscopynow.com/coi/cda/detail.cda?id=804&type=Feature&chId=2&page=1

Apologies for this. Copy and paste job, I'm afraid. I tried putting another link to it in this comment, but I keep getting 'Document not found'.

bel, if you're reading this, any ideas?

belacqua
belacqua posted over 7 years ago

Just reported it on the bugs forum. Noticed it yesterday but was too lazy to report then. More to follow.

Finrod
Finrod posted over 7 years ago

Acknowledged, bel. Thanks for that.

Silthilar
Silthilar posted over 7 years ago

Yeah, that's about where I am: I can follow along decently, but I don't really know what exactly is going on.

purple octopus
purple octopus posted over 7 years ago

Good lord! This is most interesting!

It would be easy to dismiss the 'bridge' as simply dust lanes or absorption lines or, as Belacqua mentions, a complex optical illusion, or anything else somewhere inbetween (remember if redshift does imply distance then Mrk 205 is nearly 15 times further away than NGC 4319. There's a lot of space there for an explanation!). John Bahcall and colleagues found that the spiral galaxy absorbs some of the light from the quasar and I also think I read somewhere that there was a third galaxy interacting with Mrk 205 and the 'bridge' could be a tidal tail between them. Who knows - it's hard to tell - what we need is a radically different camera angle, and that's not gonna happen for a while! Have there been no measurements made for the redshift of the 'bridge' of matter?

Now, as for the redshift controversy, pffffffffff! How people like to rock the spaceship! If it was just this case then it would be easy to shrug off, but, what with Stephan's Quintet (more specifically, NGC 7319) and NGC 7603, that gets harder to do. What do I think? Well, I don't think I yet know nearly enough to pass judgement: it's a big ol' universe and who knows how many things are in it that we can't explain or don't even know about! However, I would like to see Halton Arp given more telescope time. For the moment, though, I'm remaining skeptical, but continuing to keep an open mind and intending to follow the rabbit further down the spiral arm...

Finrod
Finrod posted over 7 years ago

Ah, PO, you mentioned Stephan's Quintet (I'll link later when I've found the best) before I did...

Life is good, sometimes...

I'll say one thing more here: if you subtract the red shifts, what evidence do you have for an expanding universe?

purple octopus
purple octopus posted over 7 years ago
No blue shifts? Time eternally ticking forwards? Tongue out
Darth Xelleon
Darth Xelleon posted over 7 years ago

RAWR! Me head hurt!

Am I the only non-scientist here?

Silthilar
Silthilar posted over 7 years ago

Quite possibly, although my head starts to hear too…but I'm 16. I've got time.

Finrod
Finrod posted over 7 years ago

It was very timely of PO to mention Stephan's Quintet; I've just discovered that a quasar has been found in front - in front, that is - of NGC 7319, the very galaxy he mentioned. See picture above. It's a bit small here, so here's a link to the original page. Scroll down to the last picture on the page.

And to answer my own question, if you take away the evidence of red shifts, the expanding universe theory collapses.

As far as I can see.

belacqua
belacqua posted over 7 years ago
But redshift is only part of a huge web of theories that are interconnected and work reasonably well. On the cosmological scale we have for example the 2.7K background radiation and the large scale mass distribution that fit to numerical simulations derived from the current Standard Model (that is, the current quantum field theories plus General Relativity plus Inflation). In the end Arp is questioning the whole Standard Model on a level that is based on a single anomaly and not justified by other observations and experiments. Those fit the theories quantitatively extremely well, nearly too well, some would say, which might contribute to the current stagnation in theoretical development.

For the quasar anomalies I honestly expect more of a "Doh!" explanation, like we had with the Cepheid confusion in the 1950s. Maybe they are just different kinds of objects that we can't differentiate at the moment.

To come back to an earlier comment: I don't think that current astronomers, or physicist in general, are convinced that there is nothing wrong with General Relativity. Every experiment is in extreme accordance with this theory, though, to a nearly insane level of accuracy. But everyone is aware that General Relativity is not consistent with quantum theory on a formal level and that it will be necessary to sacrifice at least the current formulation of General Relativity fundamentally to have at least a chance for a Grand Unified Theory. Maybe the CERN's LHC will stir things up a bit when it starts its experiments by the end of the year.

From a meta-theoretical point of view the main problem of Arp's speculations seem to be that he - as opposed to other approaches - can not present a viable alternative theory with some consistency, and more importantly, with quantitative predictions. And we know from the history of science, theories are never overturned by facts but only by alternative theories with higher explanatory power.
Finrod
Finrod posted over 7 years ago

Reasonably well? Take away the red shifts and the whole structure collapses, does it not? I feel able to question the whole Standard Model (hubristic name!) on that criterion alone.

Red shifts of galaxies are also quantised (focussed around particular values - I'll edit and link to somewhere useful later) Why? As you point out, Relativity and Quantum theories are incompatible mathematically. Both cannot be correct. I feel able to raise questions on that criterion, too.

And when evidence such as the two quasars in the filament of matter between NGC 7603 and its companion - in a place where the 'Standard Model' says they have no business to be - I feel able to raise that too.

Leave CERN's future experiments out of the argument, and look at the evidence I have amassed here. It should be obvious to anyone reading this that I just don't believe in the 'cosmology' that's being presented as fact in the schools I teach in. It would be good not to be a heretic...but it just doesn't make sense.

Mind you, at least Creationism hasn't crept to our shores yet...

 

belacqua, I knew you would come up with a tightly-argued response and was preparing myself on several fronts earlier today when I suffered a Firefox crash and lost a lot of stuff which I hadn't saved Yell . You're probably aware how difficult it is to re-find stuff on the Web in such a situation. Indulge me this once; I'll try to bookmark pages more often.

PS I know the (variable stars) Cepheid confusion of which you speak - but I'm not old enough to remember it.

Silthilar
Silthilar posted over 7 years ago

jeez, you guys…this is the silliest debate i've ever seen, counting the one on the difference between anti-war and pro-peace. keep it up!

belacqua
belacqua posted over 7 years ago

We aim to entertain.

:|

NomiLove
NomiLove posted over 7 years ago

And you do. (Well, at least I find it entertaining).

Silthilar
Silthilar posted over 7 years ago

yo tambien

belacqua
belacqua posted over 7 years ago
Dare I say the Standard Model earned its name? It is the most precise set of theories ever developed, some predictions (of quantum field theories as well as relativity) were tested with an accuracy of less than a millionth of a percent. And indeed, some predictions seemed to make no (common) sense at all, even until recently, but  have meanwhile been verified in experiments. It is this very good validation that is part of the problem, though. Finrod, you say because they are mathematically incompatible, quantum field theories and Relativity cannot be both correct. But, well, they can in a sense as they describe the world on quite different scales. Both need to be embedded in a theory in which they appear as approximative limiting cases, just like Newtonian mechanics is not wrong, but a very good approximation of Special Relativity for small relative velocities.

Quasars at the moment seem to be a puzzle, and solving those is exactly what is the daily business of normal science. Red shift in general is not a axiom taken out of thin air by the way, it is calibrated within the cosmic distance ladder and this, again, works reasonably well for most case and thus can't be completely bogus. As for quantised red shift: due to the large scale, somewhat foam-like, distribution of (visible) matter in the universe it might very well be just an observational effect. Or not. But the evidence is quite thin, the uncertainty surrounding the observations significant.

And even if it should turn out that there is something more interesting going on with quasars and their red shift, it would by no means collapse all of the current theories. But this might not be the item to start a general discussion about viable meta-theoretical concepts in the philosophy of science.

That said, I don't what to give the impression that I see the current state of (astro)physics as final. Quite the contrary, there are many problems unsolved and maybe a major revolution ahead on the way to quantum gravitation. But at the moment the quasar puzzle has yet failed to give important impulses, that is, stimulate a new theoretical view. Again: theories can never be overturned by facts but only by better theories, with higher explanatory power.
Finrod
Finrod posted over 7 years ago

I haven't time today to provide much material, bel.

I know (I am an amateur astronomer) how red shift (and its opposite, which for some weird reason is called blue, rather than violet, shift) works when the Doppler effect is involved. My point is that it cannot be the sole and exclusive cause of the observed red shifts when objects that are physically associated in space have wildly differing red shift values which then cause mainstream astronomers to say that it must be a chance alignment in the sky and that they must be widely separated in space, but in the same line of sight. That paper I referred you to yesterday (link to come later, I think) said that the chances of fortuitous alignment in the NGC 7603 system (again, I'll link up later) to be around 3 in a billion. The quasar in front of NGC 7319 (see images above) will not sit with the standard model, which in my humble view may be the opinion of the majority - but there again, the majority used to think the Earth was flat and in the centre of the Universe.

 

I'm out of time. I'll be back this evening (I hope). 

belacqua
belacqua posted over 7 years ago
You are not about to suggest that that a strange superstition (like the flat Earth) is the same as a scientific theory proper? The later has not only to quantitatively explain the things we know, but also to quantitatively predict things we never saw, which then is put on test. The theory holon of the Standard Model did that (from light bending observations during solar eclipses to the W and Z bosons found at CERN).

I can see neither for non-velocity red shift at the moment.

BTW: Feynman's messenger lectures linked at this item are still instructive and thoughtful for this topic, especially Lecture 7: Seeking New Laws.
Finrod
Finrod posted over 7 years ago

If both quantum mechanics and relativity need to be embedded in another (as yet unformed) theory, then they're both wrong.

No two ways about it. And of course Newtonian mechanics is wrong. Even Jacob Bronowski said that in The Ascent of Man. It also happens to be a good approximation, nothing more.

Quote: "...due to the large scale, somewhat foam-like, distribution of (visible) matter in the universe it might very well be just an observational effect...."

How do you know that? It might be, and it might not be. Where did you get that highly desirable information? From God? No, from astronomers who support the big bang theory. If what I say is correct, it throws such 'evidence' back in to the 'In tray', because distance 'measurements' - derived from red shifts - are not trustworthy.

Quote: "... But the evidence is quite thin, the uncertainty surrounding the observations significant..."

Show me the evidence. I've been taking great pains to support my case with citations and illustrations from established scientific sources (God knows - figuratively speaking - we'd be here for ever if I let some of the internet fruitcakes into the discussion!).

Quote: "...it would by no means collapse all of the current theories..."

Of course not, I fully agree with that. What I am fervently opposing is the thoroughly un-scientific attitude that the big bang theory - or 'standard model' - has been proved. You simply can't do that in science.

Quote: " ...That said, I don't what to give the impression that I see the current state of (astro)physics as final. Quite the contrary, there are many problems unsolved and maybe a major revolution ahead on the way to quantum gravitation..."

Of course it's not final. Though, to me, it's very interesting to reflect that just such an attitude was expressed by physicists at the end of the 19th and 20th centuries (Stephen Hawking (A Brief History of Time and - other masterpieces), I notice, has recently come in for some serious criticism on such grounds).

If it were true, I would expect to look up and see, without any fuss, the stars going out, one by one... (See the short story The Nine Billion Names of God by Arthur C.Clarke. I don't guarantee it to be a perfect quote).

Quote: "...theories can never be overturned by facts..."

Nonsense. Phlogiston (which for some bizarre reason still gets mentioned in British schools) is overturnable in one - count them, one experiment - the careful burning, in a crucible with lid, of a piece of magnesium or similar. I've overturned it hundreds of times. If not thousands.

Quote: "...I can see neither (explanations nor predictions) for non-velocity red shift at the moment..."

So what? I have demonstrated that the standard model is fatally flawed with one image alone - the one of the galaxy NGC (it stands for New General Catalogue, if anyone's dying to know) 7603 and its companion, with two quasars in the filament between them. NGC 7603 has a red shift (Or z, as we say in such circles) of 0.029. The companion galaxy has a z of 0.057. The two quasars, in the middle of the filament connecting them, have z's of 0.243 and 0.391, while the filament itself - wherever you measure it - has a z of 0.030.

All at different distances, then, eh?

I'll quit now with a link to a page authored by Tom Van Flandern - a name that I have only recently learnt, but obviously from his discussion of the speed of gravity an intellect not to be dismissed out of hand - which discusses a few objections to the big bang theory.

They appear on this page.

That's enough to be going on with.

Big bang is not faith.

Finrod
Finrod posted over 7 years ago

Just to lighten up this page a little, I've found this conjugation of an 'irregular verb' in a knowledgeable and very witty article (if you're in the know!) by one Virginia Trimble in a particle physics publication called Beam Line (published by the Stanford Linear Accelerator Centre (sorry, Center):

 

 I evaluate new ideas carefully

You are a bit of a stick-in-the-mud

 He is slightly to the right of Genghis Khan

 

Which sums up some of the attitudes I have been uncovering whilst feverishly researching this topic. 

Silthilar
Silthilar posted over 7 years ago

slightly to the right of genghis khan? what be that supposing to mean?

M_eanwhile
M_eanwhile posted over 7 years ago

But what are they? I mean, you said they're small distant objects. What kind of objects? What are they made of? do we even know? Or do we just call them bright distant objects? Why can't they just be as close as those galaxies and thus not be so bright after all? Sorry for the many questions.

belacqua
belacqua posted over 7 years ago
The commonly held opinion nowadays is that quasars (quasi-stellar radio sources) are the active cores of young galaxies. Those are called the quasar's mother galaxies. In current telescopes quasars appear mostly just as points-like sources of radiation, hence "quasi-stellar" (while in some cases the mother galaxies can in fact been seen with some resolution). From the characteristics of the radiation, the spectrum, it can be derived that the radiation can't have just heated material as source but mainly comes from what is called synchrotron radiation. From the red shift of the quasar its distance can be derived according to the current cosmological models. This can be calibrated with those nearer quasars whose mother galaxies are visible. Those galaxies brightness in turn can be compared to galaxies of the same type that are near enough to see phenomena with known brightness, like a special type of supernovae (this process by the way is called the astronomical distance ladder).

The current view is that quasars are extremely far away, even on a cosmological scale (thus a phenomenon of the young universe) and are super-bright galaxy cores, radiating with the power of up to several hundred trillion stars out of an area of few light-years diameter. This is why it is supposed that quasars in fact are supermassive black-holes sitting in the centre of galaxies and eating up star after star of this galaxy, emitting radiation when the stars matter falls into the black hole, rotating around it like the water in a bath tub when you pull the plug (in my language this radiation is sometimes called what would translate to "death cry radiation"). An while the black holes that usually sit in the centre of galaxies eat a few stars per year, quasars are supposed to eat hundreds or more per year, thus clearing the area around them within about hundred million years or so. When all stars directly around the black hole have been sucked in, the quasar looses its energy source and becomes a normal galaxy core with average energy output.

This model works very well for some thousand known quasars, although a few quasars show anomalies that foster debates.
Finrod
Finrod posted over 7 years ago

How, then, can the galaxy NGC 7319 have a quasar in front of it? Do the 'current cosmological models' need tweaking again?

I believe that sort of 'explanation' to be manifestly unsupportable.

Why should the quasars only be a feature of the 'early' (whatever that means) universe?

I have demonstrated here, time and again, that the current 'orthodox' view makes no sense.

Incidentally, a model that works for some but not others is not much of a model. It is the 'anomalous' quasars - anomalous only as far as that sort of airy theorising is concerned - which undermine that whole scenario. And it's far from 'few.' I have recently unearthed a survey which raises the number of quasars associated with the galaxy M82 to fifteen.

Finrod
Finrod posted over 7 years ago

bel, which quasars have mother galaxies that can be seen with 'some resolution?'

Finrod
Finrod posted over 7 years ago

Silth, apologies! I've just scrolled back and found your comment.

"To the right of Genghis Khan" is meant to illustrate how a person's reputation can be damaged by someone else eager to promote themselves in preference. This joke, a variation on I am an individual, you are eccentric, he/she is round the twist, was thrown in to demontrate how one's viewpoint appears differently to oneself and others.

Halton Arp is a very experienced astronomer, yet he gets dismissed out of hand by 'orthodox' science. I have been locating his papers published on the Internet and wading through them one at a time. I can as yet see no reason why they should be rejected as unpublishable by the professional journals.

Arp became estranged from the Hale Observatory in the US because he kept finding the 'wrong' sort of objects - i.e. those that don't provide support for the big bang 'theory' - and he left and took a job at the Max Planck Institute in Germany, where he still resides.

I have seen so many papers by scientists which list what bel calls 'anomalous' quasars that I am firmly convinced that the big bang theory - or 'standard model' - is unsupportable in its present form. bel's position is that they are just anomalies, and that the standard model - which can't be made to work at all without admitting that the Universe is made up of 90-98% 'dark matter' (handy name, that - it must be difficult to find) - is more or less reality.

I am presently working furiously (when time allows) to understand the theorising behind alternative viewpoints. Why the standard model has lasted as long as it has done is a mystery to me, because evidence (see images above and the evidence I outline in previous comments) has been piling up - especially in recent years as resolutions have improved enormously - that it is time for re-consideration of ideas such as the Steady State hypothesis, first outlined by Gold, Bondi and Hoyle.

I don't know (nor would I ever expect to!) know the whole truth of the story here. I do know that Halton Arp has been treated very badly by a community of scientists who are - and have been for about forty years - behaving very un-scientifically.

Footnote: Sorry for technospeak! "resolutions have improved" basically means "telescopes - optical, radio, UV, X-ray etc - have got bigger and better."

belacqua
belacqua posted over 7 years ago
One of the textbook examples is QSO0054+144 who's type E mother galaxy was first identified in an optical observation in the early 80s (Gehren; Fried; Wehinger; Wyckhoff: ApJ 278, 11 (1984)).Quite impressive is SDSS J1004+4112, where a single quasar is split into five images by a galaxy cluster gravitational lense. The mother galaxy around the quasar can be seen clearly.

As indicated in my attempt to answer M_eanwhile's question with an overview of the currently prevalent view, quasars are considered to have used up the surrounding matter; in older galaxies a lot of the interstellar gas has also been used for stellar formation out of reach for the central black hole. Former quasars are thought to have "calmed down" to normal black-holes in galactic cores. This view is supported by the observation that the characteristics of quasars blend into those of radio- and Seyfert-galaxies. Maybe the cores have been ejected from the mother galaxy once in a while, which might explain some observations.

With "few" anomalies I meant in comparison to the several ten thousand currently known quasars. And yes, these anomalies are a puzzle that need further investigation. Some could be observational effects (e.g. the quasar being seen through an interstellar gap of the foreground galaxy). Maybe there is something more interesting going on in some cases. Tweaking theories until they fit the observed reality with the best likelihood is nothing obscene (as long as you stay away from shady ad hoc hypotheses) - it is called scientific research. So far no alternative explanation for those anomalies has been presented, btw. Let alone a good, consistent one. As Richard Feynman once noted: "The problem is not what might be wrong but what might be substituted in place of it precisely. And that is not so easy. As soon as any real, definite idea is substituted it becomes almost immediately apparent that it doesn't work."
Finrod
Finrod posted over 7 years ago

Five? How come five images? I read the other day that the images would come in pairs.

I, and many other scientists, do not agree that quasars 'are considered to have used up the surrounding matter.'

And as to 'tweaking theories':

 

An Open Letter to the Scientific Community


cosmologystatement.org


(Published in New Scientist, May 22, 2004)

The big bang today relies on a growing number of hypothetical entities, things that we have never observed-- inflation, dark matter and dark energy are the most prominent examples. Without them, there would be a fatal contradiction between the observations made by astronomers and the predictions of the big bang theory. In no other field of physics would this continual recourse to new hypothetical objects be accepted as a way of bridging the gap between theory and observation. It would, at the least, raise serious questions about the validity of the underlying theory. But the big bang theory can't survive without these fudge factors. Without the hypothetical inflation field, the big bang does not predict the smooth, isotropic cosmic background radiation that is observed, because there would be no way for parts of the universe that are now more than a few degrees away in the sky to come to the same temperature and thus emit the same amount of microwave radiation.

Without some kind of dark matter, unlike any that we have observed on Earth despite 20 years of experiments, big-bang theory makes contradictory predictions for the density of matter in the universe. Inflation requires a density 20 times larger than that implied by big bang nucleosynthesis, the theory's explanation of the origin of the light elements. And without dark energy, the theory predicts that the universe is only about 8 billion years old, which is billions of years younger than the age of many stars in our galaxy.

What is more, the big bang theory can boast of no quantitative predictions that have subsequently been validated by observation. The successes claimed by the theory's supporters consist of its ability to retrospectively fit observations with a steadily increasing array of adjustable parameters, just as the old Earth-centered cosmology of Ptolemy needed layer upon layer of epicycles.

Yet the big bang is not the only framework available for understanding the history of the universe. Plasma cosmology and the steady-state model both hypothesize an evolving universe without beginning or end. These and other alternative approaches can also explain the basic phenomena of the cosmos, including the abundances of light elements, the generation of large-scale structure, the cosmic background radiation, and how the redshift of far-away galaxies increases with distance. They have even predicted new phenomena that were subsequently observed, something the big bang has failed to do.

Supporters of the big bang theory may retort that these theories do not explain every cosmological observation. But that is scarcely surprising, as their development has been severely hampered by a complete lack of funding. Indeed, such questions and alternatives cannot even now be freely discussed and examined. An open exchange of ideas is lacking in most mainstream conferences. Whereas Richard Feynman could say that "science is the culture of doubt", in cosmology today doubt and dissent are not tolerated, and young scientists learn to remain silent if they have something negative to say about the standard big bang model. Those who doubt the big bang fear that saying so will cost them their funding.

Even observations are now interpreted through this biased filter, judged right or wrong depending on whether or not they support the big bang. So discordant data on red shifts, lithium and helium abundances, and galaxy distribution, among other topics, are ignored or ridiculed. This reflects a growing dogmatic mindset that is alien to the spirit of free scientific inquiry.

Today, virtually all financial and experimental resources in cosmology are devoted to big bang studies. Funding comes from only a few sources, and all the peer-review committees that control them are dominated by supporters of the big bang. As a result, the dominance of the big bang within the field has become self-sustaining, irrespective of the scientific validity of the theory.

Giving support only to projects within the big bang framework undermines a fundamental element of the scientific method -- the constant testing of theory against observation. Such a restriction makes unbiased discussion and research impossible. To redress this, we urge those agencies that fund work in cosmology to set aside a significant fraction of their funding for investigations into alternative theories and observational contradictions of the big bang. To avoid bias, the peer review committee that allocates such funds could be composed of astronomers and physicists from outside the field of cosmology.

Allocating funding to investigations into the big bang's validity, and its alternatives, would allow the scientific process to determine our most accurate model of the history of the universe.

(The above was copied without any alteration whatsoever. It is signed by hundreds - if not thousands, I'll check if anyone asks - of people, myself included)

 

And, belacqua, I copied the Hubble (HST) site image of the galaxy NGC 4319 with its associated quasar Markarian 205 and played with it with my very basic image manipulation software (see the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog for another example) . The disputed bridge (surprisingly) sprang into view quite clearly very soon, despite the published image not being of long enough exposure to register the faintest elements. I didn't even need the raw Hubble data, which also contains evidence of the bridge.

I found back-up for this here from Jack Sulentic, who is another figure in this drama whom I intend to contact.

So, please don't quote me 'textbook examples' until this dispute has been resolved in the same way as Newton's ideas have.

 

I feel that - to quote Professor Geoffrey Burbidge (University of California, San Diego, referring to a similar matter), the NASA page on NGC 4319/Markarian 205 is "a real piece of dishonesty."

belacqua
belacqua posted over 7 years ago
This "open letter" is slightly grotesque with its misconceptions; the argumentative structure honestly reminds more of an ID pamphlet. Just a few things: "hypothetical entities" - yes, of course they are used. D'oh! As philosophy of science knows for about hundred years even the concept of force in Newtonian physics is what's called a theoretical term: not directly observable without the help of a theory. - "No other field of physics" worked with entities that were first theoretically proposed and then discovered? From electromagnetic fields and radio-waves to neutrinos, quarks, the W and Z vector bosons, the planets Neptune and Pluto - the history of physics consisted of first making definite theoretical predictions to explain phenomena and then finding the proposed entities; with the predicted properties. Dark matter: it's not a fudge factor, we can observe it because of its gravitational effects. Just like Neptune once was 'dark matter'. Cosmic dark matter shows in galaxy rotation curves, cluster dynamics and its gravitational lensing effects. With proper observation and analysis even large scale distributions of dark matter can be properly reconstructed. So we know it's there, the question that remains is: what is it? Inflation: the current models made definite quantitative predictions that since been put on test by observations, just recently for example with the WMAP satellite - and so far, inflation models and quite specific features of observation data are in accordance. To clarify all these questions and constrain theory-building, experiments like LHC are build. But it's tough, yes, experimentally and mathematically/theoretically. No one denies that.

"Big bang theory can boast of no quantitative predictions" is a blatant lie, period. Many predictions have been made over decades and since confirmed, endless observations and calibrations, but it is obviously fruitless to name them, or to hint at the fact that big bang is not a theoretically isolated model. To try and adapt a dead horse like steady-state to observations made since its decay forty years ago on the other hand does indeed need a lot of retro-fitting. Remember, steady-state was once the standard model, until it could no longer stand the evidence and got dropped. One of the recent observations maybe worth citing is the independent measurement of the Hubble constant via the SZ effect by Chandra (Bonamente et al., 2006 ).

But as this is the quasar page, let's turn the tables. The variable mass hypothesis that is needed to support local redshift is specifically made up in such a way that it, and I quote Narlikar (1993) here, "is observationally no different" from the standard model. It's of no use then - it means nothing less than to immunise this hypothesis against empirical test. But the variable mass hypothesis has a pretty strong claim for a simple mathematical trick, given that it offers no physical mechanism that would explain what's going on whatsoever. It's a similar thing with Arp's ejection hypothesis for quasars. There is no mechanism provided. In other words: there is no physics involved, it means just to explain one unknown with another unknown, without further insight. Talk about fudge factors. And it solely rests on an observational bias, accidental alignment of quasars and foreground galaxies, that got misinterpreted. That it is indeed nothing but an observational bias has since been shown by Scranton et al. (2005), who analysed 200,000 quasars and 13.8 million galaxies from the SDSS for galaxy-quasar cross-correlation. The outcome is about two degrees of magnitude below what Arp's hypothesis would need, actually ruling that one out. The results do in fact match weak gravitational lensing predictions.

But I admit, it's easy to photoshop a bridge in the NGC 4319 image - or any other galaxy image for that matter - when using RGB composit, JPEG compressed, contrast limited images that have before already been tuned for monitor or print reproduction, instead of the actual FITS data.
NomiLove
NomiLove posted over 7 years ago

So, are you saying that FITS data cannot be similarly manipulated? I would think anything that can be uploaded into a computer could (theoretically) be. (Although if FITS is more than just a regular type image format... [?] )

belacqua
belacqua posted over 7 years ago

Sure it can be manipulated. Just that FITS is more than a simple image file format, it can contain more data, but more importantly it contains the data actually measured. JPEG is an image format tuned to trick the deficiencies of the human eye, a massively lossy compression with very strong artifacts which become important when you play with it after the conversion. So it's very easy to get all kinds of weird effects, even inadvertently. For astronomical images it's better to use special software (like SAOimage) that works directly with the FITS data and also offers a lot of tools to tune the image in a controlled way.

belacqua
belacqua posted over 7 years ago

Quite fascinating: a recent preprint by Eigenbrod et al. (submitted to A&A) describes the first  long-term spectroscopic monitoring of microlensing events in the Einstein cross quasar, done with the VLT. A first review of the data shows patterns as expected from an accretion disk. A map of the quasar will follow once the data has been analysed. Neat.

Ginger_Bear
Ginger_Bear posted over 7 years ago

wow! although the majority of that was beyond my knowledge on the subject, it's still fascinating! and besides im sure my physics teacher will be sufficently impressed, and i'd imagine surprised and intrigued, when i relay all that back to him!!

Finrod
Finrod posted over 7 years ago

(Quote:belacqua) "Quite fascinating: a recent preprint by Eigenbrod et al. (submitted to A&A) describes the first long-term spectroscopic monitoring of microlensing events in the Einstein cross quasar, done with the VLT. A first review of the data shows patterns as expected from an accretion disk. A map of the quasar will follow once the data has been analysed. Neat."(End quote) [Edited] 

But not, by any stretch of the imagination, gaudy. The shapes of the four quasars (plural) don't even agree with 'standard' theoretical models of 'gravitational lensing' - they're not at all distorted around the centre of the 'lensing' galaxy - which, by the way, is a dwarf galaxy, with far too little mass to even consider attempting such a trick.

Finrod
Finrod posted over 7 years ago

Quote:belacqua: "The variable mass hypothesis that is needed to support local redshift is specifically made up in such a way that it, and I quote Narlikar (1993) here, "is observationally no different" from the standard model. It's of no use then - it means nothing less than to immunise this hypothesis against empirical test." End quote

Nonsense. Friedmann's solution of the General Relativity equations in 1922 made the approximation of mass being constant before he solved them. Narlikar's takes account of the possibility of variable mass.

Narlikar, (the much-lamented) Hoyle, Arp and that crowd (and I've just received an invite to the second 'Crisis in Cosmology' conference, by the way - doesn't sound to me like the mainstream are winning the argument) are working in a bigger ballpark than people playing with 'Doppler' redshifts only.

 

Oh, and belacqua... you quote the Sloan Digital Sky Survey: They list NGC 7603A and 7603B (given a different catalogue number there) as an 'interacting system.' You can even see the two quasars in the 'bridge of stars' (and I quote the SDSS here) in their image here - number six on the page)- between 7603A and 7603B.

 

Which is precisely - I emphasise, precisely - what Arp and Hoyle and Narlikar - and, most latterly, me - have been blathering on about all these years. You can't have an interacting system with wildly different redshifts and keep with the 'standard model.'

 

I have now a copy of the follow-up paper by the same two Spanish astronomers who established the existence of the two quasars in the 'bridge of stars' in the 7603 system. It promises, I think, more profound results than anything trumpeted by the big bangers.

Accretion discs? I can't say that I'm at all interested.

Hideous Monster
Hideous Monster posted over 7 years ago

Wow.  This is all pretty cool.  I must admit, I don't follow this stuff vry carefully, but I did hear talk of an interesting effect that was observed by a man named Tifft in the 1970's, which may throw a big wrench into the whole redshift thing, anyway.  I don't know if this is what you guys are talking about or not, but I was asked to comment, and I'm kind of in too much of a hurry to read the whole thing, so I'll briefly explain the Tifft observation, and move on.

Said simply, Tifft noted that the speed of a galaxy's redshift seemed to depend highly on the type of galaxy, rather than other factors. He observed that redshift speed between any given type of galaxy, seemed to be quantized like the energy states of an atom.  What all of this means is that there is a chance that the galaxies aren't moving away from each other, that the universe really isn't made primarily of dark matter, and that there actually may never have been a big bang. 

Tifft doesn't neccessarily disagree with the big bang, he just puts forward an observation which suggests that redshift may be subject to other influences pertaining to the type of galaxy, in addition to universal expansion. Then again, he also doesn't put forth any theories as to how the big bang could be possible, given his observation: an observation which is of course not very well received by modern cosmologists, simply because it isn't mainstream, and has the potential to deligitimize thousands of modern college textbooks, scientific documentaries, thesisses and dissertations on which many famous and successful physicists have based their doctrates. Some people spend months and years designing new mathematical formulas to explain existence in general, and if dark matter and an expanding universe, which are consistently working into those formulas, turn out to be a miscalculation, then it would make for a lot of rosie cheeks across the world of achademia. Just think of all the money that's being poured into finding dark matter here on earth, when you could easily just look up at the stars and discredit the entire basis for its theoretical existence.

Some scientists take the observation quite seriously, though. I actually heard that one even concluded that when you look into the night sky at other galaxies, you're not just looking at another cluster of stars in another coordinate in space, but you're really looking at an alternate plane of existence. I admit I don't pay attention to this stuff anywhere near enough to be able to wrap my mind around a concept like that.

Personally, for me it's not an important subject. If I found out tomorrow that somebody disproved the big bang, and that school textbooks worldwide are being recalled, it would get little more out of me than a chuckle or two, and some passing conversations among friends. I'm a little less concerned about universal origins, and a little more concerned about local, daily life.

Finrod
Finrod posted over 7 years ago

Yep. I haven't mentioned Tifft yet, so a big thank you to HM for introducing him.

I would emphasise one point, though. A redshift could be interpreted as a velocity due to the Doppler effect, or - as I am continually at pains to point out - could be due to some other cause. This is what the 'mainstream' persistently and pointedly refuses to address.

As for 'dark matter;' I'd sooner believe in the Tooth Fairy.

 

Two quotes from the early twentieth century have been echoing in my head recently. The first seems to derive ultimately from J.B.S. Haldane:

"Not only is the universe stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine." -- Sir Arthur Eddington (1882-1944), English astronomer.

-and the second is from Niels Bohr(1885-1962):

"Your idea is crazy. The question is: Is it crazy enough to be true?"
Hideous Monster
Hideous Monster posted over 7 years ago

Well, you'll be happy to hear that as somebody who doesn't really pay a lot of attention to astronamy and cosmology, specifically, even I have heard about this redshift debate. Of course, I do pay a lot of attention to very strange and alternative sources of science news. In fact, if the anomaly were not so controversial, I probably would have been more likely to pass over it without noticing it.

Finrod
Finrod posted over 7 years ago

From a conference in Portugal (2005 - emphasis mine):

"Observation on globular clusters analyzed by Riccardo Scarpa of the European Southern Observatory cast doubt on the existence of dark matter, a key component of the Big Bang theory. In the theory, dark matter, different from any observed on earth, is needed because the gravitational field provided by ordinary matter is too small to create the galaxies and clusters of galaxies observed in the 14 billion years since the Big Bang is supposed to have happened. The main evidence for dark matter is in the measurements of the rotation speeds of galaxies. These speeds, it is argued, imply the existence of more gravitating matter than can be accounted for by ordinary matter.

"But Scarpa showed that in globular clusters of stars, where the Big Bang theory says there should be no dark matter, the same excessive velocities occur among the cluster stars. What’s more, the deviation from the expected velocity always occurs when the acceleration due to gravity is at a certain critical value. “The results are much more consistent with the idea that there is some modification of gravitational force, than with the existence of dark matter,” Scarpa concludes."

 

I have plenty of material like this. I'll try and keep it in bite-sized organic chunks.

Finrod
Finrod posted over 6 years ago

Further to immediately previous comment:

 

"First up was professional astronomer Dr Riccardo Scarpa of the European Southern Observatory (Santiago, Chile). His job involves working with the magnificent Very Large Telescope array at Paranal, and I guess that makes him the envy of just about every astronomer with blood in his veins!

"His paper was on Modified Newtonian Dynamics (MOND), which I had eagerly anticipated and thoroughly appreciated. MOND is a very exciting development in observational astronomy used to make dark matter redundant in the explanation of cosmic gravitational effects like the anomalous rotational speeds of galaxies."

 

And not a single accretion disk in sight... again, emphasis is mine. Also, I've left out the mathematics, because it doesn't sit well in the text format here.

Still - quite fascinating.

Finrod
Finrod posted over 6 years ago

Apologies to all for not posting for a month or so, but Real Life does occasionally drag me out of cyberspace.

Anyway, I've been talking to Hilton Ratcliffe recently, and I've just discovered his description of the announcement of the quasar in front of the galaxy NGC 7319 (mentioned in the description above). It starts from the viewpoint of Halton Arp's Atlas of Peculiar Galaxies (available online here) which started off the arguments about physically associated objects with wildly different redshifts:

 

"...Did I just give you the impression that the case was closed and that everyone who had previously thought that redshift unarguably proved their pet theories about an expanding Universe was knocked out by Arp’s discoveries? Good heavens, no! They squealed like stuck pigs. The quasars just couldn’t be joined to the central galaxies, they cried, it must be an illusion. The matter bridges are ghosts caused by optical aberrations in his telescope. He doesn’t understand gravity. He doesn’t understand relativity. He doesn’t understand anything! It wasn’t a surprising response. In fact, it’s all too typical. But the time came when Dr Arp and his colleagues brought upon an auditorium full of these critics a pregnant and telling silence. At the meeting of the American Astronomical Society held in Texas in 2004, Professor Margaret Burbidge presented a paper that she had co-authored with Arp and several other leading astronomers, including her husband. It detailed the discovery of a high redshift quasar close to a low redshift galaxy. This time though, the alignment was different in a very significant way. This time, no one could argue. You see, the high redshift quasar lay in front of the galaxy NGC 7319! There was no longer occasion to debate the veracity of matter bridges. The quasar was in the foreground. In that impressive gathering of astronomy’s who’s who, you could have heard a pin drop. It was a deafening silence..."

 

Hilton Ratcliffe, The Virtue of Heresy

Available from sellers of good books everywhere. Whatever that means, these days...

Finrod
Finrod posted over 6 years ago

PASADENA, California, Feb 2008:

"Scientists of the Cryogenic Dark Matter Search (CDMS) experiment, including researchers from the California Institute of Technology, today announced that they have regained the lead in the worldwide race by a number of different research groups to find the particles that make up dark matter. The CDMS experiment, which is being conducted a half-mile underground in a mine in Soudan, Minnesota, again sets the world's best constraints on the properties of dark matter candidates.

"Weakly interacting massive particles, or WIMPs, are leading candidates for the building blocks of dark matter, the as-yet-unknown form of matter that accounts for 85 percent of the entire mass of the universe. Hundreds of billions of WIMPs may have passed through your body as you read these sentences.

"The CDMS experiment is located in the Soudan Underground Laboratory, shielded from cosmic rays and other particles that could mimic the signals expected from dark matter particles. Scientists operate the ultrasensitive CDMS detectors under clean-room conditions at a temperature of about 40 millikelvins, or .04 degrees Celsius above absolute zero. Physicists believe that WIMPs, if they exist, would travel right through ordinary matter, rarely leaving a trace. If WIMPs were to cross the CDMS detector, occasionally one would hit the nucleus of an atom of the element germanium in the crystal grid of the detector. Like a hammer hitting a bell, the collision would create vibrations of the grid, which scientists would be able to detect. The experiment is sensitive enough to hear WIMPs if they hit the crystal germanium detector only twice per year.

"The scientists did not observe such signals, allowing the CDMS experiment to set limits on the properties of WIMPs."

 

 

Or, translating into plain English, they're congratulating themselves on finding nothing. Absolutely nothing.

I wonder how much it cost?