The Activities of NGC 1097
A view of the innermost region of an active galaxy
reveals a rigid conventionality of scientific vision.
This image from the European Southern Observatory
shows the inner 5500-light-year region of the barred spiral galaxy
NGC 1097. According to the press release, it shows a “ring of dust
and gas” surrounding a “super-massive black hole” at the center and
a “filamentary structure spiralling down” into the black hole. The
press release notes that this Active Galactic Nucleus (AGN) at the
center is fainter than most, indicating that “only a small amount of
gas and stars” are falling into the black hole.
The latest generations of telescopes can see ever
more details in ever smaller fields of view. A crippling side
effect, however, is the loss of vision that connects these details
with larger-scale phenomena. An AGN, for instance, is not defined by
“gas and stars” falling into a black hole: In standard theory,
almost every galaxy—AGN or not—has gas and stars falling into a
An AGN is distinctive because it is active:
It has knots of ionized hydrogen (such as the bright spots in this
“ring”) that are considered to be star-forming regions. And it
usually has a jet emerging from it. This galaxy is famous for its
“dogleg” jet—a narrow filament that ends with a right-angle turn
into an arc. Another fainter jet extends from the nucleus in the
opposite direction. Still another jet and counter-jet extend through
the nucleus with a 20-degree-or-so angle of rotation from the
The dogleg is not unique.
NGC 4651 has a “tangential arc” at
the end of a jet. Several x-ray clusters have similar features.
these are called “gravitational lensing”. But
show the same feature
It is a feature seen frequently in lab plasma discharges
X-ray and radio images of NGC 1097 show lobes of
emission in line with the jets. Especially to the north, the lobes
resolve into strings of bright sources. Many of these have been
identified as quasars and galaxy clusters, objects considered (by
standard theory) to be far beyond the galaxy.
A plot of all
quasar and cluster locations in the area around the galaxy shows
that their numbers increase toward the galaxy and that they, too,
are aligned with the jets. (See pp. 43-47 in Seeing Red by
Halton Arp.) For distant objects that have no connection to the
galaxy, this is strange behavior.
But to look outside the narrow field of view of
modern telescopes is to look outside the narrow field of explanation
of modern theories. What if the rings of material around AGNs are
composed not of gas and dust but of plasma? What if the filamentary
structure is not gas and stars falling into a black hole but
Birkeland currents driving a
plasma focus? What if quasars
and galaxy clusters are ejected from AGNs?
of plasma can be investigated in laboratories on Earth. The
properties of black holes can only be deduced from the malleable
mathematics of conjecture. Active Galactic Nuclei stand in contrast
to the ossified idealism of a science that has lost touch with its
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