November 20, 2014 | David F. Coppedge

Quasar Alignment Is "Spooky"

Unexpectedly, quasar rotation axes show a peculiar alignment over billions of light-years.

The European Southern Observatory, using its VLT (Very Large Telescope) in Chile, finished measuring the positions and rotations of 93 quasars and found something weird.  These powerhouses of light, with powerful jets streaming out their poles, show unexpected traits in common.  An ESO press release titled “Spooky Alignment of Quasars Across Billions of Light-years” states:

New observations with ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile have revealed alignments over the largest structures ever discovered in the Universe. A European research team has found that the rotation axes of the central supermassive black holes in a sample of quasars are parallel to each other over distances of billions of light-years. The team has also found that the rotation axes of these quasars tend to be aligned with the vast structures in the cosmic web in which they reside.

The large-scale structure of the universe looks like a web or network of filaments, with large voids between them.  This new clue to the quasars’ orientations in the filaments will require new models to explain how they got that way.  One of the team astronomers says, “The alignments in the new data, on scales even bigger than current predictions from simulations, may be a hint that there is a missing ingredient in our current models of the cosmos.”

More Haunting Finds in Cosmology

Jet set:  The powerful jets emanating from active galaxies, quasars and black holes has long been a puzzle: where does all that phenomenal energy come from to accelerate the material almost to the speed of light?  A paper in Nature that came out the same time as the ESO announcement is titled, “The power of relativistic jets is larger than the luminosity of their accretion disks.”  Somehow, black holes and quasars are able to put the pedal to the metal:

Here we report an analysis of archival observations of a sample of blazars (quasars whose jets point towards Earth) that overcomes previous limitations. We find a clear correlation between jet power, as measured through the γ-ray luminosity, and accretion luminosity, as measured by the broad emission lines, with the jet power dominating the disk luminosity, in agreement with numerical simulations. This implies that the magnetic field threading the black hole horizon reaches the maximum value sustainable by the accreting matter.

Early galaxies:  More evidence has arrived that galaxies appeared suddenly at the dawn of creation.   PhysOrg reports the following from a Japanese team:

A team of astronomers using the Subaru Telescope’s Suprime-Cam to perform the Subaru Ultra-Deep Survey for Lyman-alpha Emitters [LAE] have looked back more than 13 billion years to find 7 early galaxies that appeared quite suddenly within 700 million years of the Big Bang.

Assuming that age, it represents an epoch in the first 5% of the universe’s history, right at the time when, according to the standard big bang model, “cosmic reionization” was removing the fog of particles moving out from the initial expansion, making the universe transparent.

As many previous reports have shown over the last decade, early complex structure does not comport with the view of a slowly-evolving universe.  “What would cause this?”, the article asks.

In the team’s analysis of their observations, they suggest the possibility that the neutral fog filling the universe was cleared about 13.0 billion years ago and LAEs suddenly appeared in sight for the first time.”

“However, there are other possibilities to explain why LAEs appeared suddenly,” said Dr. Ouchi, who is the principal investigator of this program. “One is that clumps of neutral hydrogen around LAEs disappeared. Another is that LAEs became intrinsically bright. The reason of the intrinsic brightening is that the Lyman-alpha emission is not efficiently produced by the ionized clouds in a LAE due to the significant escape of ionizing photons from the galaxy. In either case, our discovery is an important key to understanding cosmic reionization and the properties of the LAEs in early universe.”

What this implies, after clearing away the fog of celebratory self-congratulation, is that they have no idea what happened to make these bright galaxies suddenly appear.  More observations will be needed, the article ends.  “By these observations, we will clarify the mystery of how galaxies were born and cosmic reionization occurred.”  Understanding, therefore, lies out there in the future—not now.

More fine tuning:  Laymen comfortable with the big bang as an explanation for the universe’s origin may not have heard of this problem:

“The Standard Model of particle physics, which scientists use to explain elementary particles and their interactions, has so far not provided an answer to why the universe did not collapse following the Big Bang,” explains Professor Arttu Rajantie, from the Department of Physics at Imperial College London.

A press release from Imperial College London offers an explanation for why it did not collapse based on the properties of gravity and the Higgs boson; just a little gravity would have been enough to prevent the cosmic catastrophe, the astronomers say.  The triumphal language in the press release shields the fact that the balance between the strength of gravity, the properties of the Higgs boson, and inflation (to say nothing of the initial conditions of the big bang) would have all had to conspire within tight constraints to allow our universe to survive and host life.

Tricks of the trade:  Physics enthusiasts may enjoy New Scientist‘s list of ways astronomers trick quantum physics to learn more about the universe.  The “8 ways we bend the laws of physics” include ways to break light speed, take the twinkle out of stars, and reach absolute zero.  A photo of Bible-believing physicist Lord Kelvin is found in the illustrations.

Since secular cosmologists have repeatedly shown their ineptness at modeling the universe (e.g., 11/10/14, 5/17/14), and have even shown a propensity to suppress the evidence (7/01/14) , it’s time for alternatives.  Are you able to think outside the box?  What do you make of these quasar polar alignments?  How about the powerful engines that produce the jets?  How could you get instant galaxies from an explosion?

Creation astronomers will have puzzles to address, too, but with a different starting ideology, they deserve a place at the table to make sense of these observations.  By observations, we do not mean the ages of things, nor their position in the timeline of the big bang model.  Those are the very paradigms that are ripe for doubting.


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