picture of the day archive
To “determine the Hubble constant” these six galaxy clusters are a
subset of the 38 that scientists
observed with Chandra, their distances said to range from 1.4 to 9.3
million light years from Earth.
Credit: NASA/CXC/MSFC/M.Bonamente et al.
Uncertainty about the Hubble Constant
Attempts to measure the size,
age, and “expansion” of the universe may be a good deal less
precise than advertised. But the problem is much worse if
the astronomers’ assumptions are incorrect.
An astronomer at Ohio State University, using a new method
that is independent of the Hubble relation (which relates
redshift to distance), has determined that the Hubble
constant (the rate at which the universe is expanding) is
15% lower than the accepted value. His measurements
have a margin of error of 6%.
Meanwhile, NASA astronomers, using another new method that
is independent of the Hubble relation, have determined that
the Hubble constant is 7% higher than the accepted value.
Their measurements have a margin of error of 15%.
Because traditional astronomers never question traditional
assumptions (and appear not to recognize they even have
any), they cannot be expected to mention that their margin
of erroneous assumption is somewhere around 500%.
That, of course, can account for their two “more precise”
determinations in exactly opposite directions. They are in
the same position as the clockmaker who attempts to
determine the exact time of day by measuring the position of
the minute hand and fails to notice that the hour hand is
missing. Without recognizing that plasma makes up 99% of the
universe and that it has dominant electrical properties,
astronomers inhabit a make-believe universe in which precise
measurements can mean precisely opposite things.
The first astronomer studied a bright eclipsing binary star
system in the nearby spiral galaxy M33. He measured with
state-of-the-art instruments the stars’ orbital period and
apparent brightness. He calculated the stars’ masses, and
then their absolute luminosities, and then their distance.
His result was 3 million light-years instead of the 2.6
million that had been accepted.
One can presume that his measurements were accurate, at
least to within 6%. But the assumptions that he took for
granted were entirely erroneous:
that gravity was the only force holding the stars in
their orbits. Without this assumption, he would have
been unable to calculate their masses. But in the past
century, we discovered that the Law of Gravity loses its
jurisdiction outside the Solar system: stellar jets and
rings don’t obey it, globular clusters don’t obey it,
galactic arms don’t obey it, galactic jets don’t obey
it, galaxies in clusters don’t obey it. (To save their
belief in the Law, astronomers had to imagine that the
universe was composed mostly of invisible stuff—Dark
Matter and Dark Energy.) A universe made of
plasma will exhibit a variety of motions in addition
to the “inverse square” force relationship that we call
that the mass–luminosity relationship was constant for
all galaxies. Astronomer Halton Arp’s observational work
indicates that luminosity may decline with increasing
redshift. A plasma universe powers stars electrically
from external sources, so luminosity is not restricted
to the mass-dependent output of thermonuclear fusion.
that the “K effect” could be ignored. It’s been known
since the early 1900s that the brightest stars (O and B
spectral classes) have anomalous redshifts—if
interpreted as a Doppler effect, they appear to be
receding from Earth. In view of Arp’s finding mentioned
above, bright stars may be less luminous than is assumed
for their (gravity determined) mass, and hence
calculations would overstate their distances.
studied 38 compact galaxy clusters with the Chandra X-ray
Telescope to “measure the precise X-ray properties of the
[hot] gas” in them. They combined this with measurements
from radio telescopes of the increase in energy of the
cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation coming from the
direction of the clusters. Then they used the Sunyaev–Zel'dovich
effect, in which radiation gains energy from electrons in
proportion to the electron density, temperature, and
physical size of a region, to calculate the physical size of
the clusters. After that, a simple trigonometry calculation
gave them the distance. Dividing the redshift-determined
speed of the cluster by the distance gave them the new
"The reason this result is so significant is that we need
the Hubble constant to tell us the size of the universe, its
age, and how much matter it contains," said NASA's Max
Bonamente, lead author of the paper describing the results.
"Astronomers absolutely need to trust this number because we
use it for countless calculations."
But again, the precise measurements were joined with
precisely erroneous assumptions:
that the x-rays were produced by hot gas. What they
actually measured was x-ray intensities, and they
applied standard gas laws to calculate how hot a gas had
to be to radiate those x-rays. Plugging this figure into
the Sunyaev–Zel'dovich equations resulted in a number
for physical size. But a gas that hot will be ionized:
It will be a plasma. It will have electromagnetic
effects. In fact, a plasma can have electromagnetic
effects—in this case, radiate x-rays—even if it’s not
hot: fast electrons will spiral in a magnetic field and
give off synchrotron radiation. Space plasmas routinely
develop double layers that accelerate electrons (and
positive ions) to high speeds. It shouldn’t be
surprising that most x-ray radiation is synchrotron
that the clusters were large, bright, and far away, and
they were looking for some method to tell them how far.
The observations of
Halton Arp and others indicate that compact galactic
clusters are small, faint “buckshot” ejections (rather
than the “single shot” quasars) from nearby active
galaxies. Like quasars, they are often paired across an
active “parent” galaxy and may be enmeshed in
radio-emitting and x-ray-emitting lobes of material
coming from the parent galaxy.
that the CMB is coming from the farthest reaches of the
universe, passes through the cluster, and is energized.
In a plasma universe, ubiquitous Birkeland currents will
absorb and re-radiate microwaves: The CMB is a local
effect, a kind of electromagnetic fog. Enhancement of
CMB in front of clusters is simply an additive effect,
that redshift was a Doppler effect, indicating velocity.
Arp’s work (and others) demonstrates that galactic
redshifts are mostly intrinsic: Galaxies with different
redshifts are physically connected with
bridges of luminous material, and the redshifts,
when adjusted to the reference frame of the dominant
galaxy, are periodic, occurring only at preferred
As Arp wrote in
Seeing Red, "The greatest mistake in my opinion, and
the one we continually make, is to let the theory guide the
model. After a ridiculously long time it has finally dawned
on me that establishment scientists actually proceed on the
belief that theories tell you what is true and not true!"
Submitted by Mel Acheson
David Talbott, Wallace Thornhill
Steve Smith, Mel Acheson
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