Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Arp's redshift anomalies

Arun has reminded me of the possible anomalous redshift observations by Halton Arp, "the world's most dangerous astronomer". ;-) Because this blog has already discussed MOND, Pioneer anomaly, cosmic strings, and other admittedly speculative observations (and their potential theoretical explanations), it's natural to add Arp's data, and I am looking forward to see some insightful comments.

What's the problem? Decades ago, Arp started to observe various galaxies and quasars. See, for example

In various individual cases, it looks like there is a galaxy connected to a quasar by a "gas filament". It really looks so, especially if you glance at the representative pictures available on the link above. The optically smaller components of this "connected multiobject" always have higher redshifts than the "large" component.

Well, there is a "subtle" discrepancy with our conventional wisdom. The quasars should be much further than the galaxies. Well, at least this is what we deduce, in agreement with the Big Bang theory, from the redshifts: the quasars (which are the smaller objects on the pictures) always have a greater redshifts than the galaxies.

Obviously, if the redshift is a Doppler redshift induced by the velocity from the expanding Universe, i.e. if it is cosmological in origin, it's clear that the quasars - conventionally believed to be as powerful as dozens of galaxies - should be much further than the galaxies around. If they're so much further, hundreds of millions of light years, they should not be connected with a "filament", right?

In the conventional Big Bang picture, all these filaments must be just some coincidences, pieces of gas that happen to fit, optically, between the galaxy and the quasar, but that are highly separated in the radial dimension. The main quantitative question about Arp's evidence is, of course, whether it is statistically plausible that he observes his (pretty large) number of these filaments. Note that it is just "slightly" controversial to say that the quasars seem to be "unusually" close to a galaxy in most cases.

OK, so these filaments should all be coincidences. Except, of course, the possibility that Arp is correct and these connections are real. In that case, the incorporation of the quasars to the Big Bang model (i.e. the relation between their redshift and their distance) would have to be sacrificed, and perhaps a more radical change would have to follow.

In a conservative version of this hypothetical revolution, the quasars could be some rather heavy objects with a huge gravitational redshift. Correct me if I'm wrong, but this object could be nothing that we normally "know" in the Universe. In Arp's description, the quasars are "ejected" from the galaxies, and therefore the redshift is a Doppler redshift, but not a cosmological one. Well, I leave the other "progressive" versions of this revolution to others.

There are rumors that some conclusions of Arp, who had to move to Germany, result from clear mathematical errors. I have not been able to check any of these statements.

If someone wants to see some very recent papers advocating Arp's point of view by a "consistency check", see e.g. astro-ph/0409025.


  1. Lubos,

    I looked at the pictures at your second link
    (they are from 1966 ?) and quite frankly I cannot see
    the "clear connection" in many cases - but then I am
    not an astronomer.
    Also, one has to take into account that Arp's sample
    is certainly not unbiased and thus it might be quite
    tricky to get the statistics right.
    How many years is he already searching for these connections ?

    A fully automated search should be possible (in principle)
    to count how many times a high-redshift object is close
    to a low-red-shift object and if this is within the expected
    range. Has anybody done such a search ?

    Again, I am not an expert but cosmic strings seem much more
    likely to me than this stuff ...

    Best regards,
    Wolfgang Beirl

  2. Of course, Wolfgang, I totally agree that the cosmic strings seem more likely. My psychological probability that most of the quasars' redshift is "inherent" would be say 0.5 percent. ;-)

    We also seem to agree that it should be rather straightforward to make a reasonable statistical analysis of the observations, to estimate whether Arp's evidence is nontrivial in any sense. It does not seem that anyone has done it.

  3. Quasars are not remote stellar objects with extreme energy. They are much closer than what the textbook says, with a regular level of energy. The quasar distances deduced by assuming their red shift to be Hubble Redshift, are wrong.

    The reason is simple, astronomers have observed proper motions of many quasars, See this ARXIV paper:



    To those unfamiliar with the terminology, "proper motion" means movements in the sky relative to other more remote stellar objects. Larger proper motion indicate closer distance. The proper motions observed of many of the quasars, if interpretted assuming they are billions of light years away, would mean they must be moving at a speed many many times higher than the light speed, which is certainly impossible. So the only logical interpretation is they must be much closer to have those observed proper motion.

    Now Lubos, are you really going to accept my criticism against the fatal error in your paper, and not even try to say a word to defend yourself? Admit defeat! You take derivatives against continuous space and time at Planck Scale where continuous space time simply do not exist. So the rest of your paper looked nice mathematically but are simply rubbish.


  4. I hope I survive the deletion coming?

    Well, I leave the other "progressive" versions of this revolution to others.It is okay to speculate as far as I can tell, once you accept models for consideration.

  5. Some discussion of Arp's anomolous redshifts can be found
    in the monograph "astrostatistics" by Feigelsen and Babu.
    See also http://www.astr.ua.edu/keel/galaxies/arp.html
    Again this has been discussed a lot on sci.astro.research
    and sci.astro. Do a search on Arp

  6. Arp is still right!!! Those two galaxies had different redshift because redshift is also induced by gravity and as a consequence also by black holes or the dark matter content which can be different.
    That seems also the case in the DARK FLOW situation which is reason to postulate that:

    DARK FLOW and HUBBLE REDSHIFT are not contradicting each other IF.

    See for the NASA article on dark flow:

    Scientists Detect Cosmic 'Dark Flow' Across Billions of Light Years,


    Dark Flow seems to be a clear sign for universal contraction while the Hubble redshift according to mainstream physics is a clear sign for accelerating expansion.

    What is the best bet?

    There is one attractive possibility: that the Hubble redshift is a sign for the existence of the absorption of Higgs space (identical with dark energy) by black holes (identical with Dark matter) through the universe.

    It could even be a clear sign for a new interpretation of the Big Bang AS A CYCLIC MULTIVERSE PROCESS.


    see the difference between

    A: Higgs particles enclosed inside black hole nuclei ( Dark energy)

    B: Oscillating Higgs particles inside the Higgs space lattice (Dark


    C: Fermionic matter originated at the Fermion repulsive horizon of

    black holes.

    Pffff you will say, this is all too much at once for me.

    Conclusion: The multi-verse in its raspberry shape is contracting as a

    whole instead of expanding, which is based on the false interpretation

    of Hubble redshift increase with distance. Hubble redshift should only

    be interpreted as the result of Space deformation by the consumption of

    Higgs space by the network of black holes located around Galaxies

    (identical with dark matter)

    For the raspberry shaped multiverse see:



    Leo Vuyk

  7. Surprize! Quasars dont show redshift!!

    Supernovae show this "time dilation" in the speed at which they fade - far-off explosions seem to dim more slowly than those nearby. But when Mike Hawkins of the Royal Observatory in Edinburgh, UK, looked at light from quasars he found no time dilation
    Time waits for no quasar – even though it should
    Newscientist, 08 April 2010 by Marcus Chown
    Magazine issue 2755.

  8. Here is an update from 2011 :)


  9. Maybe distant light is red-shifted just because it has been traveling for so many billions of years that it has lost energy, or the higher-frequency photons have been weeded out along the way. Nobel prize, please.