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No. 39: May-Jun 1985

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Hold everything: it may be a nonproblem

Newtonian gravitation may not have to be tampered with, as described above. Galaxies may not need "missing mass" to stabilize them after all. B. Byrd and M. Valtonen estimate that many clusters of galaxies are really flying apart.

"Clusters of galaxies can eject members by a gravitational slingshot process, with one galaxy after another being accelerated through the dense centre of the cluster and fired out into the Universe at large. If this happens, the ejected galaxies are moving at more than the escape velocity from the system, so estimates of the total mass in the system based on the assumption that all the galaxies are in bound orbits will be incorrect"
(Anonymous; "Expanding Clusters Confuse Astronomers," New Scientist, p. 13, March 2l, 1985.)

Comment. In previous entries, we have seen jets of stars being squirted into space, immense shells of stars being ejected by elliptical galaxies, and other cosmic sowings of astronomical systems. Now, entire galactic clusters are being thrown around the universe. This hard-ly seems a universe that is "running down," as the Laws of Thermodynamics would have us believe. Somebody or something is stirring the pot -- a pot in which biological systems and perhaps super-biological systems are ingredients in the stew.

From Science Frontiers #39, MAY-JUN 1985. � 1985-2000 William R. Corliss