Cosmology Mavericks Turn On the Red Light
According to the majority of astronomers, redshifts are “cosmological”: that is, they represent the effect on spectral light of the expansion of the universe. A minority group of astronomers, however, claims otherwise, that at least a component of redshift represents intrinsic motion effects of rapidly moving objects irrespective of cosmic expansion. For evidence, they point to active galaxies that appear to have quasars with very different redshifts apparently associated with them; their theory is that quasars have been ejected from the galactic nuclei. These maverick astronomers include Halton Arp, Geoffrey and Margaret Burbidge, J.V. Narlikar, M. B. Bell and the late Fred Hoyle. Some of these have also been vocal critics of the Big Bang theory.
Bell has published a new paper in The Astrophysical Journal1 (Dec. 1) providing more evidence for the ejection theory. He studied the redshifts that appear to cluster at preferred (“quantized”) distances and examined the “wings” or distributions around the peaks. If the redshifts were cosmological, one would expect the wings to be symmetrical. If quasars (also called quasi-stellar objects, or QSOs) were ejected from active galactic nuclei, the average velocity vectors for a sample due to ejection would be spherically symmetric with respect to the host galaxies. But from our vantage point, the radial components receding from us by the ejection would be additive to the cosmological component along our line of sight. This should produce a larger wing on the red side of the spectral peak, and that is what Bell claims he has found in two samples, one at large redshift and one at lower redshift. “These results offer further evidence,” he argues, “in favor of the model proposing that QSOs are ejected from active galaxies.”
Bell does not claim that this overthrows the standard Big Bang model, but says, “inflation may be in trouble if it suggests that all the density structure in the universe (e.g., galaxies and clusters) was preset during the inflationary period.” He believes, instead, that quasars are smaller objects that were ejected early in the evolution of active galaxies, and represent the seeds of new galaxies in the early universe. Still, his findings cast doubt on the usual interpretation of redshift, and means that quasars are not the superluminous bodies at vast distances usually assumed, because such beliefs come “entirely from the assumption that their redshifts are cosmological,” he says.
There are still many mysteries out there. The Hubble Space Telescope just took a picture of a nearby “baby” galaxy (see Astronomy Picture of the Day) that astronomers claim is just now forming stars out of a gas cloud that formed after the big bang, according to New Scientist. Why this galaxy should wait so long after others have matured is a puzzle. (The evidence is merely low metallicity in this particular small galaxy; the story is concocted to fit it into the standard model.) The Hubble press release puzzles over this galaxy assumed to be 500 million years old, nearly yesterday in cosmological terms: “Our Milky Way galaxy by contrast is over 20 times older, or about 12 billion years old, the typical age of galaxies across the universe.”
1M.B. Bell, “Distances of Quasars and Quasar-like Galaxies: Further Evidence That Quasi-stellar Objects May Be Ejected from Active Galaxies,” The Astrophysical Journal, 616:738-744, 2004 December 1.
The ongoing debate about redshifts has attracted the attention of creationists and other skeptics of Big-Bang-to-man philosophy. This paper does not call into question any age estimates for the universe, since Bell believes it fits into the age estimates for the standard model, but it reinforces doubts about the interpretation of redshifts. It also provides some support for the idea that redshifts are quantized, i.e. that they cluster around preferred distances like waves in a pond. Does this provide support for the idea Earth is located somewhere near the center of the universe? Will the maverick astronomers succeed in overcoming the dogma of the majority of cosmologists? Since Bob Berman of Astronomy thinks the majority party is clueless anyway (see 11/06/2004 headline), it seems open season to offer alternatives. No claims are made here about the validity of this paper other than to give it a hearing for interested researchers. But please, please, don’t think that willingness to be a maverick justifies emulating the Los Alamos caveman.