astronomy Cosmology Creation/evolution

Four high redshift quasars puzzle astronomers

A team of astronomers led by Joseph Hennawi of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, using the W.M.  Keck observatory in Hawaii, have discovered the first quadruple quasar: four quasars with approximately the same redshift of about z ~ 2 and located on the sky in close proximity.  The online article1 from Max Planck Institute is titled “Quasar quartet puzzles scientists” with the subtitle “Astronomers must rethink models about the development of large-scale cosmic structures.” This is a discovery of the first known group of four quasars with the same redshift found in the same location on the sky. A research paper has been accepted for publication in the journal Science and a preprint is now available.2

The quartet resides in one of the most massive structures ever discovered in the distant universe, and is surrounded by a giant nebula of cool dense gas. Either the discovery is a one-in-ten-million coincidence, or cosmologists need to rethink their models of quasar evolution and the formation of the most massive cosmic structures.1

4 quasars zoom
Caption from original article: Rare find: This image depicts the region in space with the quadruple quasars. The four quasars are indicated by arrows. The quasars are embedded in a giant nebula of cool dense gas visible in the image as a blue haze. The nebula has an extent of one million light-years across, and these objects are so distant that their light has taken nearly 10 billion years to reach telescopes on Earth. This false color image is based on observations with the 10-m-Keck-telescope on the summit of Mauna Kea in Hawaii. Credit: Arrigoni-Battaia & Hennawi / MPIA  (Ref. 1)

The logic goes as follows. Quasars constitute a very brief phase in the evolution of a galaxy–lasting about only 10 million years. They are superluminous because their brightness is driven by matter falling into the supermassive black hole at their centre.

During this phase, they are the most luminous objects in the Universe, shining hundreds of times brighter than their host galaxies, which themselves contain hundreds of billions of stars. But these hyper-luminous episodes last only a tiny fraction of a galaxy’s lifetime, which is why astronomers need to be very lucky to catch any given galaxy in the act.1

As a result it has been calculated that it was a 1-in-10-million chance of seeing 4 nearly identical quasars all in the same nebula. They are rare. How did they form so early in the Universe, i.e. so soon after the alleged big bang? So not only was it lucky to see them, how did they form at all, at that epoch in the history of the Universe? And why is the density of galaxies at that redshift, in that region of space, so high, much higher than the standard model would predict?

“There are several hundred times more galaxies in this region than you would expect to see at these distances” explains J. Xavier Prochaska, professor at the University of California Santa Cruz and the principal investigator of the Keck observations.1

According to their redshifts (z ~ 2) and the usual Hubble law these objects are observed at a distance of about 10 billion light-years, which means according to the standard model they are being observed at a stage of their evolution about 4 billion years after the big bang. How did this happen? How did they grow to be so massive so soon? Not only that how did all the observed galaxies in the group, which they call a proto-cluster (because it is supposed to be so distant therefore are observed early in the age of the Universe) evolve to this state so soon in the evolution of the Universe?

The distances they give are based on the standard Hubble law interpretation. The quasars have redshifts z ~ 2, but if those redshifts are not due to the expansion of the Universe, but as Halton Arp has suggested, instead they are intrinsic redshifts, then this cluster of galaxies, including the quasars are not so distant after all. If that was the case it changes the distance figures they quote (see the figure caption above) and the nebula is not one million light-years across but much less. It would also mean that the quasars are not so superluminous as their luminosity is also calculated from their Hubble law distance. So without subscribing to the big bang model, that would solve some of their dilemmas. Nevertheless the concept of Halton Arp, with quasars being ejected from the hearts of active galaxies, is quite a different scenario anyway.

But clearly the discovery of this quartet of quasars is another big bang headache (emphasis added):

Hennawi explains “if you discover something which, according to current scientific wisdom, should be extremely improbable, you can come to one of two conclusions: either you just got very lucky, or you need to modify your theory.1

Yes, that is right. Theory is wrong, but does not need modification; it needs to be discarded.

As such, the discovery of the first quadruple quasar may force cosmologists to rethink their models of quasar evolution and the formation of the most massive structures in the universe.1


I note that the quasar quartet all have redshifts very close to one of the quantised Karlsson values of zK = 1.96. The idea there is that that Karlsson redshift is intrinsic to the quasar (not due to expansion of the Universe) and hence any remaining component of a Hubble-law distance-determining redshift would be very small indeed.  This fact alone would solve the dilemmas here.

Fig. 1b from  preprint
Fig. 1b from preprint 1505.03786v1. QSO = quasar. AGN = active galactic nuclei are belived to be the engines that drive quasars.

I asked my friend Dr Chris Fulton, who last published a paper with Halton Arp on quasar-galaxy associations,3 and with whom I have been collaborating for many years on this subject.4,5  I asked Chris to have a look at the online NED database to see if there were any possible candidate galaxies that could have been the parent galaxy from which these quasars might have been ejected. Note, the symbols QSO and AGN both indicate quasars. After reading the research paper, and in reference to its Fig. 1b, shown left, Chris wrote (my emphasis added),

The f/g quasar and the three AGNs are in striking alignment, so I would expect the parent to be somewhere along that line, though not necessarily between AGN1 and AGN3, and at a lower redshift, z < 0.5.  NED shows a plethora of galaxies with known redshifts (z) within 30′ of position 08h41m+39d21m, 80 of them to be exact, and there are many QSO candidates as shown in the attached list.  The Max Planck article2 all but states, correctly, that the standard big bang model is in serious troubleWhat else but an ejection from a central source would form a straight line of such massive objects at such great separations from one another?

But if the quasars were ejected from the heart of an active parent galaxy (or galaxies) then the standard model would be falsified. The standard big bang explanation is that all matter came from the big bang and galaxies formed from accretion of matter, and then grew by mergers of galaxies. No ejection of young new matter from AGNs is possible in the standard big bang.

I conclude then that this is further evidence against the standard big bang model. A far better explanation is that God created with a real great light show where He ejected newly-born galaxies out of the hearts of active parent galaxies.


  1. Quasar quartet puzzles scientists, May 15, 2015
  2. J.F. Hennawi, J.X. Prochaska, S. Cantalupo, F. Arrigoni-Battaia, Quasar Quartet Embedded in Giant Nebula Reveals Rare Massive Structure in Distant Universe, May 14, 2015, preprint 1505.03786v1.
  3. 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.
  4. J.G. Hartnett, Quasar-galaxy associations.
  5. J.G. Hartnett, Quasar redshifts blast big bang.

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.