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No. 46: Jul-Aug 1986

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Cosmic Currents

A survey of 390 elliptical galaxies have identified an unexpected streaming effect superimposed on the (postulated) general outward expansion of the universe. A team of seven astronomers first measured the velocities of the elliptical galaxies relative to the earth. Next they subtracted out the velocities of universal expansion and, lastly, the velocity of the earth relative to the 3K cosmic background radiation. These subtractions enable us to determine how the 390 elliptical galaxies move relative to the cosmic background radiation -- which is about the best fixed reference frame we can come up with.

For roughly 50 million parsecs in all directions from earth, the clusters and superclusters of galaxies are streaming through the cosmos in a group. What's more, they lie in and move parallel to a fairly well-defined plane. Just what this coordinated motion means in terms of the origin and evolution of the universe is anyone's guess. There doesn't seem to be anything in the Big Bang theory that would explain these cosmic currents. Something set all these galaxies in motion -- but what?

(Waldrop, M. Mitchell; "The Currents of Space," Science, 232:26, 1986.)

Giant elliptical galaxy A giant elliptical galaxy containing many billions of stars. Hundreds of these immense assemblages are moving collectively though the cosmos.

From Science Frontiers #46, JUL-AUG 1986. 1986-2000 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