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No. 138: NOV-DEC 2001

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"Redshift is A Shaky Measuring Rod"

So saith M. Burbidge, an astronomer at the University of California at San Diego. Her assertion echoes what Arp has been proclaiming for years. (AR#3); namely that some redshifts are not due to the Doppler effect and an expanding universe. Since redshift is the major cosmological yardstick, the whole fabric of modern cosmology would become unwoven if redshifts cannot be used to measure distances reliably.

We bring this subject up once more because Burbidge claims that some newly discovered quasar pairs cast additional doubt on redshift distance measurements. For example, she, along with Arp and Y. Chu, point to the quasar pair flanking the galaxy named Arp 220 (one of Arp's earlier discoveries). Quasars are very energetic sources of visible light, radio waves, and X-rays. The problem with Arp-220's flanking quasars is that they have much greater redshifts than the galaxy that seems to be situated in between them and likely at the same distance. Is this just a chance association, and the quasars are really much farther away than the galaxy -- as suggested by their high redshifts? Most astronomers believe this must be the case, but Burbidge and, of course, Arp, doubt it. They point to 10 other galaxies nearby that are also straddled by quasar pairs with higher redshifts. All of these were discovered within the last four years. Are they all merely chance associations?

Arp contends that these quasar pairs are actually great masses of matter that have been ejected in opposite directions by the galaxies they flank. In this, the quasar pairs remind one of the pairs of energetic jets of matter emitted in opposite directions by many active galaxies. Astronomers readily accept these pairs of jets but emphatically reject a physical connection between the quasar pairs and the galaxies that seem to have expelled them. To do otherwise would endanger much of modern cosmology.

(Schilling, Govert; "Radical Theory Takes a Test," Science, 291:579, 2001.)

Comment. If 10 high-shift quasar pairs do not impress other astronomers, would 100 be sufficient, or 1,000?

From Science Frontiers #138, NOV-DEC 2001. � 2001 William R. Corliss

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