Apr 26, 2006
Galaxies Behaving Badly
Results from GIRAFFE, a new spectroscope
attached to the Very Large Telescope, have caught astronomers by surprise—again. It seems that many galaxies do not behave in the ways
The European Space Agency (ESO) spectroscope GIRAFFE was recently
installed as part of the Very Large Telescope (VLT) at the Paranal
Observatory in Chile. Francois Hammer, a leader of the investigating
team, reports it has given astronomers their first opportunity to obtain
simultaneous spectra of discrete areas within large objects in
space—nebulae, galaxies, and even galaxy clusters.
"GIRAFFE…is the only instrument in the world that is able to analyze
simultaneously the light coming from 15 galaxies covering a field of
view almost as large as the full moon," said Mathieu Puech, lead author
of a recent paper presenting the results.
The technology is extraordinary, but the investigators' theoretical
assumptions can only invite more contradictions and unanswered
questions. The astronomers say that GIRAFFE enables them to determine
the velocities of small areas within distant galaxies. But
this claim is based on the most shaky assumption of the Big Bang
theory—that the redshift of a galaxy provides a reliable measure of
velocity and, therefore, of distance. It is assumed that 'high-redshift
galaxies' means 'distant galaxies'. Of course, the farther away a galaxy
is, the longer time its light must travel to reach us. Therefore,
distant galaxies should show us what the universe looked like long ago.
The illustration above gives results obtained with GIRAFFE on 'distant'
galaxies. (See larger illustration
here). The first
column shows images obtained with the Hubble Space
Telescope. The second column is the "velocity field" deduced from
GIRAFFE observations: the reddish parts "show material moving away from
us with respect to the mean velocity of the galaxy, while the blue parts
are moving towards us". The scale in kilometers per second is shown on
The last column is a map of electron density per cubic centimeter. The
first object "corresponds to a spiral galaxy forming stars at a frantic
rate of 100 solar masses per year". The electron density map allows the
astronomers to localize the region of star formation as the black region
on the left. The second object, the investigators say, is a galaxy that
is clearly "out of balance" and therefore shows "a very perturbed
velocity field". The third object appears to show an outflow—"matter
being ejected perpendicular to the plane of the galaxy".
The investigators did not see what they expected. They report that
GIRAFFE brought "the surprising
discovery that as much as 40% of distant galaxies were 'out of
balance'—their internal motions were very disturbed—a possible sign that
they are still showing the aftermath of collisions between galaxies."
Or perhaps their theoretical starting point (their assumptions about
redshift) has already led the GIRAFFE team astray. Astronomer
Halton Arp — and by now many others — have shown that high-redshift
galaxies typically cluster around and are
companions of lower-redshift galaxies. If these critics are correct,
there is something fundamentally wrong with astronomers' unyielding
assumptions about redshift.
Arp has repeatedly pointed out that redshifted galaxies often reveal
'peculiar' features indicating a 'disturbed' state. The observational
evidence suggests they are young galaxies in the process of
development from quasars. And quasars, the most strongly redshifted
objects in the sky, are not the exceedingly remote objects astronomers
have assumed: They were born by ejection from active galactic nuclei. As
newborn quasars age, they begin to look like normal galaxies and their
redshifts drop in 'quantized' steps (jumping from one level down to
Like Arp, a growing number of plasma cosmologists say that conventional
astronomers, in applying Big Bang assumptions, are misinterpreting the
galaxies' youth as distance. They are misinterpreting 'disturbed'
motions as 'out of balance' dynamics. And because of their severely
limited toolkit, they invariably cite
else could it be!) 'collisions', with barely a thought as to the
contradiction posed by incessant galactic collisions in an
ever-expanding Big Bang universe.
Plasma cosmologists see a much different universe. Recognizing that 99%
of the universe is plasma, they see ejecting parent galaxies, their
infant quasars, and their peculiar adolescent galaxies as normal and
coherent activities of
electricity in space.
To observe the
electrical properties of plasma is to recognize that electrical forces
can easily and often overwhelm gravitational forces. The conventional
appeal to dark matter is an excuse for the failure of gravitational
theory to account for galactic motions—
"Dark matter, which composes about 25% of the Universe, is a simple word
to describe something we really don't understand", said Hector Flores,
co-leader of the team investigating the 'distant galaxies'. "From
looking at how galaxies rotate, we know that dark matter must be
present, as otherwise these gigantic structures would just dissolve".
But decades of
laboratory experiments and computer simulations have demonstrated
that the observed galactic structure and rotation are
results of plasma interactions. In a plasma universe, the
astronomers' dark matter is simply faulty perception. It is not the
galaxies, but the theory that "would just dissolve" in the
light of recent observations, were the data considered objectively.
Archaic assumptions, formulated long before the emergence of the new
technologies, are the greatest constraint on scientific progress today.
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