Cosmology Creation/evolution Physics

Halton Arp—Big-Bang-defying giant passes away

Halton Arp (March 21, 1927 – Dec. 28, 2013)

Halton Arp passed away on Saturday morning 28th December 2013 in Munich, Germany.  He will be sorely missed by many but not so much by others because of his challenges to the ruling big bang paradigm.

With Geoffrey Burbidge and others, Professor Halton Arp was a thorn in the side of those who held to the standard story line of the big bang.  In many papers and several books1 he promoted the idea that quasars are born from the nucleus of active galaxies—parent galaxies.

In the standard big bang model their very large redshifts are interpreted according to the Hubble Law to mean they are the most distant sources in the universe. According to Arp’s alternative model, evidence strongly suggests that they are associated with relatively nearby active galaxies and that they have been ejected from those parent galaxies.

Quasar in NGC7319
Quasar (shown by arrow) in front of galaxy NGC 7319

One extremely good example of this was reported in the Astrophysical Journal2  in 2004 where a quasar was found embedded in the galaxy NGC 7319 only 8 arc minutes from its centre. See left figure 1. The arrow indicates the quasar.

This finding was presented by Margaret Burbidge at the January 2004 AAS meeting in Atlanta. The response, according to Halton Arp, was “overwhelming silence.” It was reported on the University of California, San Diego webpage (10 January 2005).3 The subtitle is “Can A ‘Distant’ Quasar Lie Within A Nearby Galaxy?”, extolling the riddle.

According to the Hubble law the galaxy NGC 7319, with a redshift of 0.022, is at a distance of about 360 million light-years. Assuming the Hubble Law holds for larger redshifts, the quasar, with a redshift one hundred times larger, must be about thirty times farther away, according to the dominant prevailing belief. Therefore these objects could not be physically connected to each other if this was true.

However, Arp has shown1 that there is a very strong case that quasars that lie close to active galaxies, on the sky, are, in fact, physically associated with those galaxies. That is, the closeness is not just a trick of the line of sight, where the quasars are millions or billions of light-years behind the galaxy and merely happen to be almost directly behind it from our point of view.

Arp (and others) have gone on to contend that the quasars have been ejected from the hearts of their parent galaxies.4  In 2012 Fulton and Arp, in a study of tens of thousands of galaxies and quasars, tested for the physical association of candidate companion quasars with putative parent galaxies They found an extremely high statistical correlation (> 50 sigma) when the ejection hypothesis and Karlsson periodicity in quasar redshifts are included.5

Galianni et al image
Close up of V-shaped gas jet entrained by quasar ejected towards us

In the case of the galaxy NGC 7319 the quasar is not accidentally aligned due to a projection effect because it is seen interacting with gaseous material in the host galaxy. A very strong outflow of gas is detected consistent with the ejection of the quasar entraining material with it. And the outflow is projected out towards the observer. See left figure 2.

The ejection-of-quasars-from-galaxies interpretation is vigorously rejected by the big bang community.  Obviously this is because it utterly demolishes their key assumption of the genesis (origin) of all matter at the big bang.  Also it calls into question many redshift-distances determined by quasar redshifts.

In the section “Alternatives to the big bang” on page 393 of his book,6 Professor Joseph Silk … admits,

“Only by disputing the interpretation of quasar redshifts as a cosmological distance indicator can this conclusion be avoided” [my emphasis added].

Silk means that if quasar redshifts do mean that they are reliable as distance indicators then the origin of all matter was in the big bang.  Arp disputes this, and, in fact, it is the main thrust of Arp’s observations!  They cast enormous doubt on the distribution of galaxies in the universe and the interpretation of big bang expansion models.7


  1. Arp, H. Seeing red, redshifts, cosmology and academic science, Apeiron, Montreal, 1998; Arp, H. Quasars, redshifts and controversies, Interstellar Media, Cambridge University Press, Berkeley, California, 1987; Arp, H. Companion galaxies: a test of the assumption that velocities can be inferred from redshift, Ap J 430:74–82, 1994; Arp, H. The distribution of high-redshift (z>2) quasars near active galaxies, Ap J 525:594–602, 1999; Arp, H. Catalogue of discordant Redshift Associations, Aperion, Montreal, 2003.
  2. P. Galianni, E. M. Burbidge, H. Arp, V. Junkkarinen, G. Burbidge, Stefano Zibetti, The discovery of a high redshift X-ray emitting QSO very close to the nucleus of NGC 7319, Ap. J. 620(1):88-94, 2004; preprint at, v1, 9 Sep 2004.
  4. Hartnett, J.G. Quantized quasar redshifts in a creationist cosmology, J. of Creation 18(2):105–113, 2004.
  5. C.C. Fulton and H.C. Arp, The 2dF redshift survey. I. Physical association and periodicity in quasar families, Ap J 754:134-143, 2012.
  6. Silk, J., The Big Bang, W.H. Freeman and Co., New York, 2000.
  7. Hartnett, J.G. The heavens declare a different story! J. of Creation 17(2):94–97, 2003.

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By John Gideon Hartnett

Dr John G. Hartnett is an Australian physicist and cosmologist, and a Christian with a biblical creationist worldview. He received a B.Sc. (Hons) and Ph.D. (with distinction) in Physics from The University of Western Australia, W.A., Australia. He was an Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Outstanding Researcher Award (DORA) fellow at the University of Adelaide, with rank of Associate Professor. Now he is retired. He has published more than 200 papers in scientific journals, book chapters and conference proceedings.

3 replies on “Halton Arp—Big-Bang-defying giant passes away”

I’ve heard of Arp’s findings on discordant redshifts for years. This has got to be the most extraordinary example I’ve heard of. It makes me wonder how long this quasar has been doing this? I hope someone keeps watching this one.


Referring to McDonald (2005), it states that, “If this quasar is close by, its redshift cannot be due to the expansion of the universe. If this is the case, this discovery casts doubt on the whole idea that quasars are very far away and can be used to do cosmology.”

This is an interesting read because all this while it was informed that QSO are linked to the expansion rate of the Universe. This article and references explains that quasars redshift tell a different story. It’s really sad that we’ve lost a great giant in the field of cosmology. I wish I could have met him.


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