homeaboutessential guidepicture of the daythunderblogsnewsmultimediapredictionsproductsget involvedcontact

Image: Arp's evolution chart, SR p 239
Credit: Courtesy of Halton Arp


pic of the day
  subject index
  abstract archive



Electric Cosmos

The Universe

Plasma Cosmology

Society for



Jan 06, 2005
The Universe According to Arp

The conventional picture of the universe has galaxies sprinkled according to redshift (z) from the Milky Way to as far as the telescopic eye can see. The sprinkling is not random but is grouped into clusters. And one peculiarity of the clusters is that they are elongated away from the Earth, making Earth the target of "Fingers of God" pointing at us from every direction.

This is odd. But conventional astronomers have exhibited a well-exercised ability to ignore odd results. This is not without good reason: One can only make sense of what makes sense. But it becomes troubling when their ability is exercised on observations that appear to be fundamental to their craft (of painting pictures of the universe).

Several fundamental observations have been contradicting the conventional picture for 30 years of more. High-z objects (usually quasars) are often aligned along the axes of low-z galaxies. Moreover, their z's decrease with distance. And the z's are sharply quantized in a series of discrete values. Furthermore, the luminosities of these high-z objects increase with distance.

Radio interferometry has measured the sizes of a number of these objects, and their velocities have been determined. The highest-z objects, in or near galactic nuclei, are very tiny and very fast, sometimes approaching the speed of light. Farther out along the line, with lower z, objects are larger, a thousand times the diameter of the littler ones, a billion times more voluminous.

In and around the lines of high-z quasars one can often find so-called "companion galaxies." These galaxies are smaller than the one they accompany, and their redshifts are a bit redder (but again the z's are quantized around certain preferred values). And quite often these lines of quasars and companion galaxies are enveloped in "cocoons" of radio and x-ray, and sometimes optical, emission.

To the unconventional astronomer, especially to Halton Arp, who has been the primary collector of these discrepant observations, it looks as if the primary galaxy is ejecting "babies" that grow up into companion galaxies. Their decreasing z is an indicator of their age. Their slowing down is an indicator of their gain in mass. (This is because the conservation of their initial momentum--mass times velocity--requires the latter to decrease as the former increases in order to keep the product constant.) Also, as their mass increases their luminosity will increase.

As they age they will cool, and the matter in them will begin to condense and to organize into stars. Finally, the stars will organize into the familiar forms of galaxies. But long before they reach the "old age" of companion galaxies, they may have ejected "babies" of their own, and the "babies" may have ejected "babies", generating a "family cluster" of galaxies and quasars.

The Virgo Cluster illustrates this "family picture" of the universe. The giant elliptical galaxy, M49, lies at the center of the cluster. It is flanked by the active and radio-bright galaxy, M87, to the north and the quasar, 3C273, to the south. All three objects are connected by a lane of radio and x-ray emission.

M87 is famous for the blue jet with quasar-like knots in it that extends toward the active galaxy M84. In the other direction from M87, opposite M84, is another line of x-ray and radio sources. The entire line is surrounded by an oval of small spiral galaxies.

Beyond M84 is the quasar PG1211, which has a line of quasars extending through it. These last quasars would be the great-grandchildren of M49.

Arp contends that just about everything we can see in the direction of the Virgo Cluster is a family member of that cluster. But he also notes that on the opposite side of the sky is a formation that is a mirror image of the Virgo Cluster: the Fornax Cluster. What's true of one must be true of the other, implying that the visible universe consists of one all-encompassing cluster. Our Local Group is somewhere in the middle. Arp speculates that there may be other such large clusters beyond the reach of present-day telescopes: After all, the mother of our visible group must have come from somewhere.

[See Arp's lecture video, "Intrinsic Redshift," for more details of this new picture of the universe.]  Available from Mikamar Publishing:

David Talbott, Wallace Thornhill
Amy Acheson
  CONTRIBUTING EDITORS: Mel Acheson, Michael Armstrong, Dwardu Cardona,
Ev Cochrane, C.J. Ransom, Don Scott, Rens van der Sluijs, Ian Tresman
  WEBMASTER: Michael Armstrong

Copyright 2005: