Sep 15, 2008
Abell Clusters: Would You Like Them Here or
(with apologies to Dr. Seuss and Sam)
Telescopic images of Abell 1689 serve to
separate the expanding universe from the plasma universe.
The image above is a composite of x-ray data (purple) from the Chandra X-ray
Observatory and optical data (yellow) from the Hubble Space Telescope. The data
is first processed by computers—a deliberate activity—and then again by human
minds—an activity usually taken for granted. Just as the first process requires
software, the second requires theories. And different theories, as different
software, produce different interpretations.
press release summarizes the expanding universe interpretation. The cluster
is “2.3 billion light years away” and “massive.” It “shows signs of merging.”
“Hundred-million-degree gas” emits x-rays. The “long arcs…are caused by
gravitational lensing of background galaxies.” The cluster has “the largest
system of such arcs ever found.”
Astronomer Halton Arp rejects the expanding universe theory but retains the idea
that gravity is the principle force acting in the universe. He writes in
"Are there other clusters of galaxies which look like the cluster at the center
of our Local Supercluster, the Virgo Cluster? … Everyone believes there are
many—and 4,073 of them are listed in the revised northern and southern Abell
Catalogue. … Everyone—myself included—thinks instinctively of galaxy
clusters as galaxies like our own seen at great distances."
But accumulating anomalies undermined Arp’s instinctive
Abell clusters have few normal galaxies. Most cluster
galaxies are peculiar or distorted; many are “just star
They tend to group around nearby active galaxies—just as
Quasi-stellar Objects (QSO) do.
Plus, they tend to occur in lines.
Plus, the lines are the same ones marked out by QSOs and
Plus, the clusters are often paired across the nearby
active galaxy with similar redshift values on each
side—again just like QSOs.
Cluster galaxies display no Hubble relationship. The
redshift-apparent magnitude relation for normal galaxies
is the basis for claiming a redshift-distance relation
and hence an expanding universe. The expected dispersion
is about 0.1 magnitude in brightness and 50 km/sec in
Doppler-interpreted redshift. Abell clusters show up to
4 magnitudes of variation in brightness (corresponding
to a variation in luminosity among member galaxies of 40
times) and up to 30,000 km/sec in velocities (requiring
them either to be exploding instead of merging or to be
stretched out over billions of light-years into
Fingers of God pointing at the Earth).
The x-ray radiation patterns around them show
elongations toward and bridges to nearby active
If the arcs were gravitationally lensed background QSOs,
their numbers should increase with fainter magnitude.
Instead, the numbers level off. A survey of the lensed
objects in this cluster whose redshifts have been
measured shows that most fall within redshifts of 1.0 to
3.5, with a maximum at 2.5. Only a handful fall around
Significantly, this cluster lies toward the southeast end of x-ray and radio
filaments that twist through the
Arp, without ruling out plasma discharge effects, thinks that
QSOs are ejected from active galactic nuclei. They gain mass, slow down, and
grow brighter as they age (and decline stepwise in redshift) out to about 400
kiloparsecs (with redshifts around 0.3). Here they often fragment into BL Lac
objects and start to fall back toward their parent galaxy. They continue to gain
mass and hence to slow down, reducing their redshifts, as they become companions
to the parent.
Therefore, Abell clusters are not “galaxies like our own seen at great
distances” but small, immature galaxies and wisps of matter associated with
nearby active galaxies.
Plasma cosmologists, without ruling out ejection effects, think QSOs and
clusters are pinches in the polar component of a galactic circuit. There is
little evidence that they move (or don’t): The sequence of properties with
respect to distance from the active galaxy could be an effect of decreasing
electrical stress. Abell clusters are simply not pinched as strongly or as
coherently as QSOs.
Plasma pinches display both radial and concentric filamentation: Whether the
filaments radiate in visible light depends on whether the current density places
glow mode or dark mode discharge. The large number of concentric arcs in
this cluster are striking, but unremarked are the number of galaxies whose disks
are also aligned in concentric arcs: their axes would be aligned radially to the
cluster’s center. Presumably, the galaxies are pinches in the radial Birkeland
currents connecting the arcs with the center. Notably, some of these “arc
aligned” galaxies are double, calling to mind the fact that Birkeland currents
tend to pair up.
Many clusters show “radial arcs,” a bit of data that contradicts gravitational
lensing theory but which theorists pass over as being “not fully understood.”
Ring currents connected to the central electrode by a radial current are
expected in plasma discharges. Examples range from the
Dogleg Galaxy (NGC
1097) to the flux tube connecting Jupiter and the plasma torus (read: ring
current) in which the
satellite Io orbits.
Not only are the clusters small and nearby, their galactic forms may not be
differentiated into stars: Whether the spiral morphology of interacting
Birkeland currents breaks up into smaller pinches depends on the electrical
properties of the discharge.
The circular morphology of this cluster is likely due to our viewing it along
its axis. The Birkeland current (also called a field-aligned current) in which
it is pinched probably has an hourglass shape. We see the concentric arcs and
radial alignments because we are looking “into the funnel.” From the side, it
would appear more like its smaller-scale cousin, the
planetary nebula. The
Bullet Cluster probably shows us the side view.
Needless to say, the x-rays are not emitted by “hot gas” but by plasma, that is
by electrically accelerated electrons that spiral in the polar magnetic field
(hence the “field aligned current”) and emit synchrotron radiation. The plasma
may or may not be “hot,” that is, contain particles that randomly collide.
In either case, Abell 1689 is
near, dim, not massive, and not merging.
By Mel Acheson
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