Home Page Science Frontiers

No. 19: Jan-Feb 1982

Issue Contents

Other pages

Other Interesting Sites











The Rims Of Galaxies Spin Too Fast

According to the physical laws governing orbital motion in a central force field, like that of our sun, distant objects should rotate more slowly than those closer to the central mass. Thus, the outer planets of the solar system swing around the sun more slowly than the earth and the other inner planets.

Astronomers always expected that the stars rotating around the massive hubs of the galaxies would obey these laws in a like manner. No such luck! Doppler measurements of galaxy rotations made by Vera C. Rubin and her colleagues, at the Carnegie Institution, indicate that most stars out near the galactic rims rotate just as fast or faster than those closer to the hub. Astronomers suppose that this anomalous rotation may be due to halos of undetected burntout stars and/or gas fringing the galaxies. Such halos would dis-tort the inverse-square-law field, permitting the observed anomalous rotation.

(Anonymous; "Fast-Spinning Galaxies," Science Digest, 89:18, November 1981.)

Comment. No one has yet discovered these hypothetical halos of mass. The universe seems to be full of "missing mass." An unpopular alternative would be the admission that Newton's Law of Gravitation does not hold on the galactic scale.

From Science Frontiers #19, JAN-FEB 1982. 1982-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987