Sunday, March 31, 2013

Reading - Seeing Red: Redshifts, Cosmology & Academic Science. Part 2..

Reading -  Seeing Red: Redshifts, Cosmology & Academic Science.
by Halton Arp

Continuation from part 1.

In Part 1 of this series, I covered the claimed 'low probability' of low redshift galaxies near high redshift quasars, illustrating how considering the full 3-dimensional nature of space illustrates how the probabilities of chance alignments aren't so low.  In this part, I'll cover the apparent 'connections' reported in some of these cases.

Things Don't Look Good…

Another problem with Arp's analysis is a heavy reliance on what something 'looks like', basically relying on pareidolia (Wikipedia).  This is a common characteristic of a lot of faulty (Wikipedia: N rays) and crank science (Pseudo-Astronomy: the ziggurat on the moon).  The greatest problem with this approach is one of reproducibilty (wikipedia).  Without reproducibility, other people can insist that they see something completely different - and if looks are all you have to go on, how can you prove anything? 
  • Consider the claimed 'bridge' between 3C273 and 3C279 in Figure 5-17 of CompTEL data (pg 132) and EGRET data in Figure 5-18 (pg 134).  Arp implies some kind cover-up in the later publication of the COMPTEL data where his claimed 'bridge' between the two objects has vanished.  Both both CompTEL and EGRET obtained photon direction information in very indirect ways, by counting individual gamma-ray photons and trying to determine their initial directions based on the trajectories of electrons either scattered or pair-produced in the instrument.  The angular resolution of both of these instruments was poor but improved over time through the accumulation of more photons - real sources would accumulate significantly more counts than empty backgrounds. This reinforced the statistics at locations of real sources and decreased significance of background noise.  Artifacts between point sources would disappear.  Similar 'connections' probably vanished all through the skymaps of these instruments over time.
  • On page 173-174 we find the statement that the connection between lobes of the Einstein cross "Looks real" (STSci).  Again, we see 'blobby' things with faint 'connections' between them, especially when blown up into a severely pixelated image.  While Arp complains these 'blobs' are not shaped like the arcs predicted by gravitational lensing, it is important to note that the Hubble observations were released in 1990.  HST still suffered from the optical flaw discovered after 'first light'.  HST was not operating at its optimal resolution and extended objects looked far fuzzier than the ideal (Wikipedia).  The first Hubble Servicing mission to fix that problem would not take place for several more years (STSci).  Hubble has since taken an image where the 'connections' are less apparent.  Other observations from ground-based instruments (Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD): The Einstein Cross Gravitational LensMicrolensing of the Einstein Cross) can have resolution limits due to atmospheric effects.
  • Pages 178-180, we see the claim that the gravitational lensing arc does not look like a lensing artifact but rather an ejected shell.  I suspect there might be spectroscopic methods for distinguishing a galaxy or QSO from an ejected shell such as the Vela supernova remnant (APOD: Vela Supernova Remnant).  Actually, since gravitational lensing is often verified by a spectroscopic signature (gravity bends all wavelengths equally, so there is no dispersion), I suspect it has already been verified that this is a lensing artifact.
Arp uses these observations to argue that quasars are ejected from the centers of galaxies.  The ejected quasars eventually sprout spiral arms and grow into regular galaxies.  He seems to suggest that most (or all?) of the galaxies we see were generated by such a process (even claiming that our own Milky Way galaxy was ejected from the Andromeda galaxy, pg 69).  This is not a problem in and of itself, because we've detected things being ejected from galactic centers, particularly jets of plasma.  Here's a few images compositing the visible light optical images, which show the galaxy, with the radio emission data, which reveal the jets from the galactic center, such as the sample below of Hercules A from Astronomy Picture of the Day.
Hercules A with Radio Jets: NASA, ESA, S. Baum & C. O'Dea (RIT), R. Perley and W. Cotton (NRAO/AUI/NSF),
and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)
Here's some more examples from Astronomy Picture of the Day: Jets from Unusual Galaxy Centaurus A, Messier 106.

But note that in these composite images, it is easy to see that the central jets from these galaxies show turbulent structure, most likely due to interactions with the intergalactic medium.  The jets form blobs, irregularities, and at large distances from the center - they slow down to form blobs that emit strongly in radio wavelengths.  You can see a similar behavior using an eyedropper to force colored dye into a class of clear water.  This behavior is also observed in jet simulations.
Yet if there is an interaction with the surrounding intergalactic medium, it is barely visible with Arp's ejected quasars!  Consider the tenuous 'connection' between Markarian 205 & NGC 4319, long regarded as the strongest case for quasar-galaxy associations (pg 22, 154-156).  Markarian 205 still gets a lot of press among Arp supporters, even though it is now known that the spectrum of the foreground galaxy and redshift has been seen in Markarian 205, indicating that Markarian 205 is behind the galaxy (see The near-ultraviolet spectrum of Markarian 205, APOD: The Galaxy and the Quasar, sample below).

R. Knacke (Penn State Erie) et al., Hubble Heritage Team, NASA
Many other claimed 'connections' between the parent galaxy and 'ejected' quasars are barely distinguishable from random blobs in the galaxy such as the 'interaction' between NGC 450 & UGC 807 (pg 83, Testing for interaction between the galaxies NGC 450 and UGC 807).

Another question is if galaxies form by this ejection process and grow these spiral arms outward as they move through the intergalactic medium, why aren't these spiral arms dragging behind the galactic center, pulled back by the drag from their relative motion in the intergalactic medium?  The intergalactic medium is certainly dense enough to alter the plasma jets in the images above.  How can this process create such beautiful, FLAT, disk galaxies that we see such as these samples on Astronomy Picture of the Day (NGC 4945, NGC 891, NGC 2683, NGC 3628, NGC 4452)?

I wonder how successful Arp and his supporters would be in identifying these disruptions in galaxy images in a double blind test (Wikipedia), where a nearby quasar has not been identified.  If these disruptions were actually unique to 'ejecting' quasars, one would think you could use them to look for the quasar from the galaxy image.  This is an example where double-blind testing of these would probably reveal observer bias.

The Universe According to Arp

Arp presents a summary of the cosmological model derived by Jayant Narlikar, Fred Hoyle and others.  One of the greatest problems I have with this description is the apparent 'Rube Goldberg machine' (wikipedia) nature of the cosmos in this model.  To make this cosmology work, Arp invokes all kinds of additional phenomena, only some of which have any chance of being testable. 

With this model, Arp claims for his data, the universe must be large and old (pg 250) compared to the Big Bang's 13.7 billion years. 

Yet consider this in the context of the 3-dimension problem discussed in part 1.  If the universe is large and full of galaxies, you EXPECT to see plenty of background objects, which means alignments with foreground objects are very probable.  For the these types of alignments to be rare, the universe must be small and finite or have a very pathological distribution of galaxies to prevent foreground-background alignments.  This may be one of the unspoken reasons why Arp's claims have been adopted by so many Young-Earth Creationists and Biblical Geocentrists - it reduces the light-travel time problem for their cosmologies.

Arp supports the notion that cosmological redshifts are quantized (pg 63), but in some strange ways which I have yet to find consistently explained.  He does devote an entire chapter to the many different ways this is supposed to work (pg 195-224).    Arp invokes a 'machion' particle to explain this quantization (pg 200-201).

In the Narlikar model, mass becomes a particle property that varies with the age of the particle, specifically m = a* t^2 (pg 108-109), where t is the time since the matter was created.  Narlikar claims that the change of the mass scale with time is such that objects 'look' like they are redshifted.  The first problem that comes to mind is that we should measure such a process in particle accelerators, where we can actually destroy and create new particles, but we do not.  Arp makes a strange dismissal of this issue on page 234 where he devotes two paragraphs to wiggle out of this problem.  The second problem that comes to mind is how such a mass change would affect atomic energy levels as well as atomic sizes, which impacts chemistry and loads of other processes.  These distant galaxies shouldn't just be redshifted, they should exhibit signficantly different chemistry.  I covered a great many of these types of issues in my rebuttal to Barry Setterfield's c-decay claims (see "A Changing Speed of Light?"). 

Arp tries to describe the QSO ejection mechanism as a 'superfluid' coming out of galactic centers (pg 247-248).  This superfluid has some rather strange properties.  It is ejected from the galactic nucleus at the speed of light, but slows and gains mass by conservation of momentum, becoming a self-gravitating object.  One problem with this scenario, acknowledged by Arp, is that hot material can't collapse under gravity.  When reading this, I couldn't help but think of the Red Matter of the 2009 Star Trek movie (Memory Alpha, See also Wikipedia: List of fictional elements, materials, isotopes and atomic particles, and Cosmic Variance: A Mystery Box Full of Red Matter).

Arp includes a plethora of additional odds-n-ends statements 'supporting' this model...
    1. As part of the quantization, he reports on galaxies that are spaced at intervals of 128 Megaparsecs (pg 203). Yet he fails to explain how this is consistent with the claimed quantization at velocities of 72 km/s or 37.5 km/s. If the Hubble constant is about 70 km/s/Mpc, then the gaps should appear about a Megaparsec apart. How are these two claims consistent?
    2. Arp suggests the electron spin defines an elemental time unit, but I don't find any actual time unit defined (pg 217-218).
    3. Arp includes quantization of planetary orbits with factor of 1.228^n and manages to tie this to his cosmological quantization (pg 220-221). This is apparently the claimed orbit quantization which I tried to address in an earlier post (see Geocentrism's "Quantized Planetary Orbits") before I was informed of the origin and details of the claim. There is no clear explanation of why this applies to the planets.  However, one question would be what about all the other objects like asteroids and comets that occupy orbits of intermediate size that clearly violate this 'quantization'?
    4. On page 229, Arp seems to have a distorted understanding of accretion, suggesting that the jets we observed from galactic centers (such as in the earlier images of galactic jets, see Wikipedia: Active Galactic Nucleus) are a property of black holes. He apparently does not understand that these jets are not an aspect of a black hole, but rather an aspect of accretion disks (wikipedia). We observe similar jets from proto-stars (wikipedia) where the accretion disk generates a magnetic field that can collimate the plasma outflows into the jet.
    5. Arp mentions the claimed 50K temperature prediction in 1961 by George Gamow (pg 237) which was in a POPULARIZATION on cosmology, NOT a peer-reviewed publication. I'm preparing a post on this, as I've found what appears to be the source of the original claim.
    6. Arp claims that cosmological physics that assumes masses are constant in time are not valid (pg 249), calling it a 'dubious assumption'. First, we have no laboratory evidence that particle masses changing like this could be true. Arp also does not consider how such things as the fine-structure constant must change if particle masses are changing and the impact this would have on spectra beyond any redshift.
    7. Arp claims that the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) must come from a thin shell at the edge of space (pg 236-237).   A schematic model of Arp's cosmology on pg 251 tries to tie this all together. Yet if this is the case, it doesn't explain why this radiation has such a uniform temperature all across the sky. It brings us back to the Horizon Problem (wikipedia), which was a problem for Big Bang cosmology before the discovery of inflation.
    This cosmology has a hodge-podge of problems which I have been unable to find addressed by its supporters beyond very weak hand-waving arguments.  There are not even any viable experiments to back it up!  Dark energy at least has some laboratory evidence via vacuum energy (wikipedia).

    Thought I could fit this review in two parts (actually, I originally thought I could finish it in one part!) but there's a little more to go.  Stay tuned for Part 3.

    Update April 1, 2013: Corrected the references on the Einstein cross and found a more recent HST image.

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