Jul 03, 2006
Explosion Baffles Astronomers
A team of investigators
searching for supernovae was caught by surprise recently
when it observed a “mysterious object” growing explosively
and inexplicably. The event was so unprecedented that
astronomers did not know how to categorize it.
The object was
discovered on February 22nd, 2006, and was first thought to
resemble a supernova. But its brightening and its spectrum
didn’t fit. Astronomers cannot even say how far away it is,
because of its redshift anomalies.
According to Kyle Dawson of the
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in
California (a member of the Supernova Cosmology Project),
"It could be some
galactic variable [star], a supernova or a quasar. But none
of those makes any
Unlike the normal supernova that takes twenty days to reach
peak brightness, the mystery object brightened for at least
100 days, achieving a 200-fold increase in brightness after
its first observation.
Fundamental to the enigma posed
by the object is its redshift. Astronomers use redshift as a
means of determining an object’s speed of recession from the
observer (and from this they calculate distance). But how
far away this object is remains a mystery. According to the
New Scientist report, “If the strongest feature in the
spectrum is a pair of calcium absorption lines, its red
shift would be 0.54, corresponding to a distance of 5.5
billion light years.
“But the object is at least one
magnitude brighter than a Type 1A supernova would be at that
distance….And there is no sign of a host galaxy, which
should be visible.”
Dawson said, “It's still going to be visible for another 2.5
months on the ground. We hope the spectrum will evolve and
we see some features we can recognize."
This is yet another example of a redshift incongruity
suggesting that something could be profoundly wrong in the
astronomers’ assumption that redshift provides a reliable
measure of distance.
It is also apparent that
supernovae are not as well understood as we have been led to
believe. The different types of supernova explosion require
different precursors and causes. And researchers have been
confounded by observations of supernovae that do not live up
to expectations. This latest report seems to add another
misfit with theory.
Perhaps Supernova 1987a (image
above) provided a clue. As reported by Wallace Thornhill,
this earlier observed explosion defied expectations of
astronomers while exhibiting all of the peculiar features
expected of a powerful plasma "Z-pinch.” Direct observation
thus suggests an electrical cause for
supernovae, and the more recent deep space explosion
should be examined for electrical signatures as well.
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