July 20, 2020
Is the Universe expanding? Maybe not.
Stars are primarily composed of hydrogen, according to consensus ideas. Nuclear reactions are thought to convert that hydrogen into helium, initiating the energetic emissions that make life on Earth possible.
When temperatures in average stellar cores reach about 100 million Kelvin, helium’s kinetic energy is strong enough to overcome electrostatic repulsion, so it fuses into carbon-12 in a so-called “triple alpha process“. After carbon-12, other exotic fusion reactions are said to occur as the star ages, until finally it reaches a stage where nickel-62 nuclei begin to accumulate. Nickel-62 has the highest binding energy per nucleon of any elements, so it can no longer be fused into heavier elements no matter how hot a star’s core might become.
The accumulation of this heavy “ash” essentially halts fusion, so radiative pressure is no longer able to hold back the force of gravity that always wants to crush the star. Suddenly, the star’s outer layers catastrophically collapse, rebounding off the core out into space in what astronomers call a supernova explosion.
In 1997 Adam Riess and Saul Perlmutter were studying Type 1a supernovae because their rise in luminosity and their subsequent decline are considered predictable in consensus circles. That measurement is a way of determining a supernova’s true brightness. By calculating the supernova’s redshift, they can place it in space-time coordinates and find out how far away it is.
When Riess and Perlmutter crunched the numbers from their observations, they were shocked to discover that the recessional velocity (redshift) of the most distant Type 1a supernovae indicated that they were accelerating. And not only that, the farther away they were, the faster they were speeding up. This effect was called “dark energy” because no apparent cosmic influence could be seen. As time went on, new observations by various groups resulted in the conclusion that dark energy makes up 75% of the Universe.
Dark energy is another of the phantoms that arise when redshift is applied to observations. Redshift has been the bane of astrophysics since Hubble first identified what he thought was the Doppler effect in images of faint galaxies. Instead of seeing redshift as an effect of acceleration and distance, it may be that it is an intrinsic property of matter. Astronomer Halton Arp proposed that idea many years ago, and it deserves further investigation, especially when anomalous observations are considered: high redshift objects in front of low redshift objects, for example.
“All of the ‘dark’ things in astronomy are artifacts of a crackpot cosmology. The ‘dark energy’ model of the universe demands that eventually all of the stars will disappear and there will be eternal darkness. In the words of Brian Schmidt, ‘The future for the universe appears very bleak.’ He confirms my portrayal of big bang cosmology as ‘hope less’.” — Wal Thornhill
The Thunderbolts Picture of the Day is generously supported by the Mainwaring Archive Foundation.