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Galactic clusters said to be merging. Credit: ESO PR Photo 24/08



Merger or Spin-off?
Mar 12, 2009

Are clusters born in a process of "galactic cannibalism" or out of the strongest progenitive force in the universe, electricity?

A recent ESO press release presents images of four galactic clusters (above) that are claimed to provide “unique and powerful validation” of the proposal that clusters form by the merging of small galaxies into larger ones. Based on the pre-space-age assumption (since disproved but unacknowledged) that the ubiquitous shift toward lower frequencies of lines in the spectra of galaxies, called redshift (symbolized by the letter z), is a measure of distance, these clusters are calculated to be about four billion light-years away. Adding the assumption that everything we observe is flying debris from an initial Big Bang explosion, the clusters are considered to be about the same age.

With these assumptions, the clusters can be arranged in age (from the Big Bang). This sequence indicates that galaxies in the older clusters are brighter and therefore are more massive than those in the younger clusters. The older galaxies (on the left) also have bright companions, which are declared to be merging with them.

That the observations validate the theory is undeniable. Unfortunately, the validation is circular. The observed data of the four clusters are interpreted in the light of the assumptions. Different assumptions of different proposals would give different interpretations, which then would validate the different proposals. This codependency of observation and theory is one reason that verifying a theory doesn’t prove that it’s true.

Also, the validation is fallacious. A logical fallacy originally noted by Aristotle is affirmation of the consequent, which can be illustrated as follows: A implies B. B is true therefore A is true. By claiming that the proposal is true because a consequence of the theory has been observed, astronomers (and other scientists) overlook other possible explanations for the consequent. The logical fallaciousness does not mean that the theory cannot be useful, but it assures that science will always be provisional.

Furthermore, its unique validity exists only insofar as competing proposals can be excluded from consideration. The consolidation of space research under the hegemony of NASA has promoted such exclusivity, but competing proposals continue to struggle for survival on the margins. “If astronomy were a science,” as a notorious competing astronomer once said, emphasis would be on testing the assumptions of alternative proposals against each other rather than on proclaiming self-congratulatory and sterile validations.

So, the “unique and powerful validation” is unmasked as wanton and a weak pleading.

Several competing theories propose that galactic clusters are not merging systems but genealogical systems. Because high-z objects have been observed in association with, even connected to and in front of, low-z objects, the high-z objects would be much closer than their cosmological distance (which is based on assuming that z indicates distance). They would therefore be much less luminous and massive than cosmological-distance calculations indicate.

The frequently observed arrangement of these high-z objects around the low-z ones suggests that the high-z ones are “offspring” of the low-z “parents.” One theory proposes that they are newly created matter that has been ejected from the parent. Other theories propose that they are “plasma-gun” ejections or that they form in pinches in the axial discharge of a galactic plasma circuit. As the newborn objects age, their luminosities and masses change in a step-wise periodicity.

The image above is not a time sequence of merging galaxies but a family portrait of proliferating galaxies. The unique and powerful validation of the image supports the competing proposals as much as it does the standard consensus one.

By Mel Acheson



SPECIAL NOTE - **New Volumes Available:
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Visitors to the site have often wondered whether they could fully appreciate the Electric Universe without further formal education. The answer is given by these exquisitely designed books. Readers from virtually all backgrounds and education levels will find them easy to comprehend, from start to finish.

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