In April 2010, Marcus Chown wrote in an article entitled “Time waits for no quasar—even though it should”1 for New Scientist online,
“Why do distant galaxies seem to age at the same rate as those closer to us when big bang theory predicts that time should appear to slow down at greater distances from Earth? No one can yet answer this new question [emphasis added] … .”
Figure 1: An artist’s depiction of what a quasar is believed to be — a supermassive black hole at the centre of a galaxy.
He says no one can answer this question. But this question has already been answered before it was even asked. To understand this we need some background.
Quasars are assumed to be supermassive black holes with the mass of a galaxy2 that are the early progenitors of the mature galaxies we see around us today. See Fig. 1. They nearly all exhibit extremely large redshifts in their emitted light and the big bang community believes that these redshifts are nearly entirely due to cosmological expansion. Therefore it follows that these massive objects are extremely bright and are being observed at some stage only several billion years after the alleged origin of the Universe in the big bang. Hence, from their redshifts when interpreted as resulting from cosmological expansion of the Universe, using Einstein’s general theory of relativity, it follows that the greater the redshift the greater the effect of the distortion of time at the quasar. That is, local clocks on quasars at greater redshifts should run slower than local clocks on quasars at lower redshifts, which are interpreted to mean that they are closer to us. (This post is based on my original article “Quasars again defy a big bang explanation” published in the Journal of Creation 24(2):8-9, 2010.)
No time dilation
But that is where the problem comes in. Mike Hawkins of the Royal Observatory in Edinburgh, UK, looked at light from quasars and he found no time dilation. He used observations of nearly 900 quasars made over periods of up to 28 years. According to the article, he “compared patterns in the light between quasars about 6 billion light years from us with those at 10 billion light years away.” But the distances assigned here are actually derived from the assumed cosmology and the Hubble law. What was really measured was the redshifts of those quasars. However the problem arises because quasars scintillate or their brightness varies. This scintillation can have periods of as little as a week, or even a day. That tells us something about the size of the object at the core, since that time should be of the scale of the light-travel time across the light-emitting region.2
“All quasars are broadly similar, and their light is powered by matter heating up as it swirls into the giant black holes at the galaxies’ cores. So one would expect that a brightness variation on the scale of, say, a month in the closer group would be stretched to two months in the more distant group.”
This time the story is about a galaxy of a billion stars that is allegedly seen from a time only 402 million years after the big bang. The galaxy is called GN-z11 because it supposedly has a redshift of 11.1,1 measured with the Hubble Space Telescope (HST). That is the highest redshift assigned to any galaxy to date, and according to big bang cosmology it corresponds to a distance of about 13.4 billion light-years. It allegedly extends the time of observation of the universe back a further 150 million years than previously known. It also places the epoch of this galaxy in the period of predicted formation of a huge number of stars and galaxy formation built from these first stars formed after the alleged big bang.2
Figure 1: That blurry image is of a galaxy so far away it dates closer to the Big Bang, from a time when the universe was a mere toddler of about 400 million years old (so reads the caption from Ref. 6) . Credit: Space Telescope Science Institute via AP.
In a new analysis of the publicly available CANDELS data3 over the GOODS fields,4 a team of astronomers, with lead author Oesch,1 identified six relatively bright galaxies with best-fit photometric redshifts z = 9.2—10.2. But photometric redshift determinations are very model dependent and not so conclusive, so they chose the intrinsically brightest of them for 12 orbit passes of the HST, to collect grism5 spectroscopic data and more accurately measure its redshift. This galaxy (now called GN-z11) was previously labelled GN-z10-1. It was previously given a photometric redshift zphot = 10.2. It has strong emission in the infrared consistent with a very bright ultra-violet galaxy after taking in to account stretching of the source optical wavelengths down to the infrared. See Fig. 1.
The authors in their paper write:1
GN-z11 is remarkably and unexpectedly luminous for a galaxy at such an early time:
It is about three times brighter than expected for the time of its alleged existence only 400 million years after the big bang. Early in the alleged big bang history, the first stars were supposed to have formed into small nondescript galaxies. They are meant to have many ‘young’ stars but since the galaxies are not meant to be very large it also follows that they should not be very bright. They’re expected to have grown large later by mergers with other galaxies, where galaxy size is correlated with its intrinsic brightness. In this case the GN-z11 galaxy has the intrinsic brightness of a galaxy observed at a redshift near z = 7, at a time when the big bang universe is three times larger. Thus it follows that the only galaxy they have identified at the epoch of 400 million years after the big bang is three times brighter than galaxies when the universe is allegedly much older and when galaxies should be much larger and hence brighter. This means “galaxy evolution” has worked too fast on this newly discovered galaxy. It is the opposite of what is expected.
Is the measurement solid?
The following is written as a rebuttal to an article titled “In Response to Hartnett’s Article”1, dated February, 2016, written by Mr Barry Setterfield. (This rebuttal is also available on creation.com.) The author states that he received the following email, along with a number of others with the same questions about the Hartnett article:2
I have a question regarding a CMI article by a Dr. John Hartnett entitled “What impact does the detection of gravitational waves have on biblical creation?” Dr. Hartnett makes the claim that the recent discovery of gravity waves uses a modern value for the speed of light to calculate the masses of the two black holes which collided to produce those waves, so he concludes (a bit too quickly in my opinion) that “the cdk idea is [to be] thoroughly rejected”. I wanted your take on this issue. Here’s the relevant portion of the article:
“Interestingly, the calculation used to determine the masses of the merging black holes in the analysis of this week’s discovery employed the standard canonical speed of light, c. That is, it used the same constant value that we measure today. Does that tell us something? I think it does.
Inspiral of black holes and associated waveform. Ref. 3. Click image for enlarged view.
Some biblical creationists favour a much higher value for the speed of light in the past, from a time soon after creation of the universe, after which it decreased or decayed down to its current value (the concept is known as cdk, from c-decay). They use this supposed much higher value of c in the past as a solution of the biblical creationist light-travel time problem. But now this new discovery shows that, at a time in the past representative of a distance in the cosmos of 1.3 billion light-years, the value of the speed of [sic] (c) was identical to today’s current value. Regardless of which creationist cosmology you like, the gravity waves observed in September 2015 must have left their source very soon after Creation week. Thus the cdk idea is thoroughly rejected.”
To which Setterfield responds. So I respond to his response (indented black text) with my comments (blue text) interspersed below his. Continue reading
The discovery of gravitational waves
Figure 1: The gravitational-wave event GW150914 observed by the LIGO Hanford (H1, left column panels) and Livingston (L1, right column panels) detectors. Times are shown relative to 14 September 2015 at 09:50:45 UTC. For visualization, all time series are filtered with a 35–350 Hz bandpass filter to suppress large fluctuations outside the detectors’ most sensitive frequency band, and band-reject filters to remove the strong instrumental spectral lines. Top row, left: H1 strain. Top row, right: L1 strain. GW150914 arrived first at L1 and 6.9 ms later at H1; for a visual comparison, the H1 data are also shown, shifted in time by this amount and inverted (to account for the detectors’ relative orientations). Second row: Gravitational-wave strain projected onto each detector in the 35–350 Hz band. Solid lines show a numerical relativity waveform for a system with parameters consistent with those recovered from GW150914 confirmed to 99.9% by an independent calculation (details in original). Shaded areas show 90% credible regions for two independent waveform reconstructions. One (dark gray) models the signal using binary black hole template waveforms. The other (light gray) does not use an astrophysical model, but instead calculates the strain signal as a linear combination of sine-Gaussian wavelets. These reconstructions have a 94% overlap. Third row: Residuals after subtracting the filtered numerical relativity waveform from the filtered detector time series. Bottom row: A time-frequency representation of the strain data, showing the signal frequency increasing over time. (Caption edited from the original, Ref. 6.)
On 14 September 2015 at 09:50:45 UTC the two gravitational wave detectors of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO)—one at Hanford, Washington and the other at Livingston, Louisiana—simultaneously observed a transient gravitational-wave signal. The signal exhibited the classic waveform predicted by Einstein’s general relativity theory for a binary black hole merger, sweeping up in frequency from 35 to 250 Hz, and exhibited a peak gravitational-wave strain of 1.0 × 10−21 at the detectors.1
The two detectors recorded the same signal, which matched the predicted waveform for the inspiral and merger of a pair of black holes and the ringdown of the resulting single black hole. The signal was observed with a matched-filter signal-to-noise ratio of 24 and a false alarm rate estimated to be less than 1 event per 203,000 years, equivalent to a statistical significance greater than 5.1σ (where 1σ represents 1 standard deviation).2 In other words, the detection is highly likely to be real.
The source lies at a luminosity distance of about 1.3 billion light-years corresponding to a redshift z ≈ 0.09.3 The two initial black hole masses were 36 M⊙ and 29 M⊙,4,5 and the final black hole mass is 62 M⊙, with the equivalent of 3 M⊙ radiated as gravitational waves. The observations demonstrate for the first time the existence of a binary stellar-mass black hole system but, more importantly, the first direct detection of gravitational waves and the first observation of a binary black hole merger. Continue reading
Why does the night sky appear black? Why isn’t it white-hot? This is an important question.
When we look up on a moonless night, except for the small number of stars we can see with our unaided eyes (about 2500 at any one time), why is it so pitch black? The answer may not be as obvious as you might think.
The blackness of space. Beth Scupham/flickr, CC BY-SA
The 19th century astronomer Olbers posed a paradox. If you imagine as you look out in space, even though galaxies and hence stars are great distances from each other, if space extends far enough, eventually every line of sight in every direction should finish on a star. If the Universe was infinite in size and filled with stars this would have to be the case. Thus why isn’t the night sky burning bright? Why isn’t it white-hot like the sun? Continue reading
What’s so funny? Watch this and see!
What do cosmologists really know about the universe? Some say everything but they don’t know what dark energy and dark matter are, yet they are supposed to comprise 96% of the mass/energy content of the universe. Very strange!
This tells me that cosmology has gone astray, and departed from the straight and narrow.
How can cosmology be included in a video about evolution? Easy, … just google the word ‘evolution’ and you’ll discover ‘cosmic evolution,’ ‘stellar evolution’ and ‘planetary evolution’ besides ‘chemical evolution.’ Without a universe with just the right atomic and chemical properties life could not exist. But first you need to explain the existence of the universe, and without a Creator that is just impossible. Biological evolution needs a universe for life to exist, and thus the question is relevant.
This video is taken from the DVD Evolution’s Achilles Heels. For more information get a copy of the DVD, or download from creation.com
Related Reading and Viewing
— how do they fit into a biblical creationist model?
Figure 1a: The quasar 3C 273, which resides in a giant elliptical galaxy in the constellation of Virgo. Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA
Quasars are very high redshift astronomical objects with broad emission line (BEL) spectra. The latter is very different to that in the usual humdrum galaxies. This means the objects redshifts and BEL spectra can be used to identify them. And because of their high redshifts they are assumed to be very distant, very luminous active galaxies with super-massive black holes at their hearts, powering them to emit prodigious amounts of radiation over all wave-bands of the electromagnetic spectrum.
Figure 1b: Spectra of quasar 3C 273 compared to the star Vega. Spectral lines are shifted towards the red end of the spectrum, from which its distance is determined using the standard LCDM cosmology.
Most of the high redshift objects in the universe are quasars. The redshifts of galaxies and quasars when interpreted within big bang cosmology—the greater the redshift the greater the distance—means that the most distant objects are seen at a time when the Universe was youngest.1
Following big bang thinking, quasars are then considered to be just galaxies in some early stage of development—back closer in time to the big bang—than the usual spiral and elliptical galaxies we might see with much lower redshifts. The quasar 3C 273, shown in Fig. 1a, the first to be identified (discovered in the early 1960s by astronomer Allan Sandage), has been shown to reside in a giant elliptical galaxy in the constellation of Virgo. According to standard cosmology its redshift puts it at a distance of 2.5 billion light-years from Earth. Continue reading