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 The European Space Agency recently revealed this illustration of galactic regions as part of its announcement
of the new GIRAFFE spectroscope for analyzing motions of objects in space. The second column shows
the enigmatic "velocity fields" deduced from GIRAFFE observations. Credit: ESO/FLAMES-GIRAFFE/VLT


Feb 16, 2007
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 theoreticians expected.

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 right.

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 another).

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 (what 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 predictable 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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