The Fingers of God effect: Not evidence for a geocentric universe

Abstract: When looking at large scale maps of the distribution of galaxies around our position is space it may be noticed that there seem to be finger like structures of these galaxies pointing back at the earth. This is called the Fingers of God (FOG) effect.  Some creationists have attempted to use this as an argument for an absolute geocentric universe. But the FOG effect can be simply explained by reasonable assumptions on the dynamics of galaxies within their clusters. Therefore it would be very naïve to use it as evidence in support of a galactocentric universe or an absolute geocentric universe. (This article is somewhat technical. First published in the Journal of Creation 22(2):75-78, 2008; edited here.)

Introduction

fingerofgod

Highlighted in red is a galaxy cluster plotted in direction on the sky and redshift (written in units of velocity (km/s)). The FOG effect is clearly seen in redshift space. Earth is at the apex of the pie slice. The argument is that the FOG effect results only in redshift space and not in real space when the intra-cluster motions of the constituent galaxies are properly taken into account.

On occasion I have heard discussed among creationists, that considered the Fingers of God (FOG) effect as evidence for a galactocentric1 universe and some foolishly even considered it evidence in favour of a geocentric2 universe.  The phenomenon is well known and in Wikipedia it is reported.

“Redshift-space distortions are an effect in observational cosmology where the spatial distribution of galaxies appears squashed and distorted when their positions are plotted in redshift-space (i.e. as a function of their redshift) rather than in real-space (as a function of their actual distance). The effect is due to the peculiar velocities of the galaxies causing a Doppler shift in addition to the redshift caused by the cosmological expansion.”3

From this it would seem that the FOG effect results from Doppler motion of galaxies within their clusters causing a line of sight effect in redshift space4 (explained below), which produces the effect of fingers of galaxies all pointing towards the observer if plotted on a map. But if one realizes that we cannot definitively know how galaxies in the Universe are distributed without making certain assumptions, then how can one use this effect as evidence for a galactocentric universe or even a geocentric universe?

Galaxies clusters are observed with constituent galaxies numbering in the thousands. It does not seem to be unreasonable to assume that within those clusters the galaxies have random orbit trajectories, meaning they orbit around their common centre with different trajectories. Generally clusters appear to be approximately spheroidal or elliptical in shape. And they are believed to be viralised.5  If the mass of the cluster, which includes large quantities of hot intercluster gas comprising about 3 to 4 times the mass of the constituent galaxies, is in hydrodynamic equilibrium then the galaxies are mutually bound to each other. This means on the Hubble timescale or the usually stated age of the universe,6 more than ten billion of years, the cluster will not break up. Using this fact, astrophysicists estimate the dynamical mass of the cluster by either measuring the temperature of the x-ray emitting gas or calculating the dispersion7 of a number of constituent galaxies, which act as tracers. This makes the implicit assumption that the galaxy clusters have had sufficient time in the Universe to come into dynamical equilibrium. Continue reading

Big bang birthed from Cosmic Egg

–a pagan story of origins

In 1927 Roman Catholic priest Georges Lemaîtredeveloped his theory of the expanding Universe and published a paper describing his theory,2 which envisioned a universe with all galaxies moving away from all other galaxies. At that time the Universe was considered to be static. Lemaître solved the gravitational field equations of Einstein’s General Relativity theory for the Universe, taking into account the work of Alexander Friedmann, who published in 1922 (but died in 1925). From that he concluded the Universe must be expanding or contracting.  Nowadays that formalism for the family of models they produced is called the Friedmann-Lemaître solution describing the big bang universe. From that Lemaître developed the idea of the Universe having a unique origin at some past moment of time.

lemaitre

Figure 1: Belgian priest Reverence Monsignor Georges Henri Joseph Édouard Lemaître (17 July 1894 – 20 June 1966) was an astronomer and professor of physics at the Catholic University of Leuven. Credit: Wikipedia

In 1931, Lemaître described the Universe as exploding from a ‘Cosmic Egg’, which was like a giant atom, with all the mass of the Universe. His idea was that the myriads of galaxies of stars in the Universe formed out of and expanded out from that initial state of the ‘Cosmic Egg’.  Lemaître imagined that the Universe started from a fluctuation of his first quantum of energy (his ‘Cosmic Egg’) when space and time were not yet defined.3

You might think that Lemaitre looked to the Scriptures, to Genesis, for a clue here (for an origin in time) but his reasoning was man’s not God’s. His assumption was a finite unbounded universe, having no centre nor edge–that is, there are no preferred points in his universe. And by winding time backward one could imagine that all points would come to a common point at a finite period of time in the past. Thus he reasoned that this must mean that the Universe had a beginning in time—hence a creation at a moment in the past. Apparently Sir Arthur Eddington, a Quaker, found Lemaître’s idea of creation philosophically repugnant, as there was a prior belief among cosmologists at the time of the Universe eternally existing.

From his quantum of energy—which he called a “primeval atom”4—his theory predicted that this was the material from which all matter—the stars and galaxies—was derived. He predicted that some form of background radiation, even cosmic rays, would be found, the leftovers of that initial explosion of matter into all the Universe.5 That is not accepted by big bang astronomers today.

Eventually from his theory the origin of the Universe was formalised not from a ‘Cosmic Egg’ but from a singularity of zero dimensions with the Universe smoothly expanding out of it, and beginning in an intensely hot fireball stage. It wasn’t until 1949 that this was, in derision, called a ‘big bang’ on a BBC radio program by Sir Fred Hoyle, while discussing what his opponents believed. Hoyle was very much against any idea of a big bang universe, as he firmly believed in the steady state model.

Now the story so far, many people know. But do they know that Lemaître was cheated out of his claim to fame?6 Continue reading

Mature creation and false information in starlight

Some biblical creationists argue for a mature creation as an explanation for the history of Genesis to align with modern cosmological observations. Don DeYoung1 is one who argues that such a view is not refutable, and he is quite right. But neither is any cosmology as really cosmology is not science.2 It is not subject to repeatable laboratory type tests that is normally required in science. Its goal is to reconstruct the history of the Universe, and in so doing cosmology is more akin to evolutionary biology or geology in which researchers must simply accept some facts as given. That makes cosmology more like a religion, a belief system, with its unprovable axioms upon which everything else is based.

De Young argues that all biblical creationist cosmogonies (i.e. worldviews) contain some level of mature creation, which I do agree with. The problem, though, which he does not address, is the issue of false information in starlight.

ngc290_hst_big-590x590

Credit: ESA & NASA; Acknowledgement: E. Olszewski (U. Arizona)

We know that the Universe is very large. Light travels very fast indeed, yet light travelling at its measured speed travels one light-year distance in one year (by definition). The Bible tells us that the Universe is only about 6000 years old, but the distances light needs to travel from the most distant sources to Earth, since creation, is about 14 billion light-years. So DeYoung, and others like him, claim that God created the ‘light in transit’. He says that this explanation is valid as it is equivalent to the mature creation of our sun or even to adult forms of life created on Earth (i.e. Adam and Eve created in the Garden as adults and not babies or embryos). On some level this may be true, but the ‘light in transit’ remains a problem in terms of God’s truthfulness.

No doubt DeYoung, and those others who hold similar views, believe that God is 100% truthful, yet they see no problem with false information in the ‘light in transit’. DeYoung excuses it by saying that it is nevertheless true in the mind of God. But there still remains a problem.

In Psalm 91 (and other passages in the Bible) we are told that the heavens tell us of God’s workmanship. Is this also only in the mind of God? Is everything that is in the astrophysical heavens just part of a big light show, which has no reality, such as the reality we can discover with the rest of our senses here on Earth? I don’t think so.

So how do you justify ‘light in transit,’ which does not relate back to real events in the past history of this Universe? If you want to take the approach of the least number of assumptions, that is, using Occam’s Razor,3 a law of economy, then I would say that a time-dilation model or a time-convention model is a far simpler and better choice.4 For example, I could construct a cosmogony (description of the origin of the Universe) where our Creator God makes the sun, the moon, the planets and all the stars and galaxies on Day 4 of Creation Week, according to Genesis 1.5 But in so doing He slows the rate of clocks on Earth during that day only. Really that means he slows the rate at which time passes on Earth relative to elsewhere in the cosmos. He makes some galaxies initially and places them throughout the Universe, like unfurling a flag or tent. It does not necessarily involve any stretching of the fabric of space, or of time or of space-time. This Universe is not an expanding, but created static, with the galaxies essentially in the same locations now as when they were created 6000 years ago, as measured by Earth clocks. Continue reading

Quasars exhibit no time dilation and still defy a big bang explanation

In April 2010, Marcus Chown wrote in an article entitled “Time waits for no quasar—even though it shouldfor 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] … .”

mg20627554.200-1_300

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

Chown writes,

“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.”

Continue reading

A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away…so the story goes

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

GNz11

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?

Continue reading

The distances to quasars

Mark 205

Figure 1: False colour image of Markarian 205, a peculiar galaxy imaged in X-rays, shown with several quasars enveloped within its hydrogen gas envelope. Credit: H. Arp, “Seeing Red”, Apeiron.

What can we say about the distances of quasars? This is an important question. According to standard big bang cosmology, due to cosmological expansion of the Universe, the very high redshifts of quasars place them at very great distances. If however even one example could be shown that contradicts the standard “greater the redshift the greater the distance” rule then it would undermine the fundamental foundation of the Standard Model of big bang cosmology. It follows that most of the very high redshift objects in the cosmos may not be so distant. And that would radically change our interpretation of the alleged big bang universe.

One such example that contradicts the Standard Model is shown in Fig. 1. The late Halton Arp spent his 60-year research career looking at peculiar galaxies, which he believed contradicted the standard big bang assumptions. Markarian 205 is such a peculiar galaxy within which are seen three quasars. Markarian 205 has a redshift of z = 0.07 but the quasars z = 1.26, 0.63 and 0.46. According to the Standard Model the high redshift quasars should be many billions of light-years behind Markarian 205, but they are clearly seen enveloped in the X-ray emitting hydrogen gas around the galaxy (as indicated by the white arrows).

Lyman-α forest

Arp’s hypothesis, that quasars and active galactic nuclei (AGNs1) have a very large intrinsic component to their redshifts, which is unrelated to their cosmic distance from Earth, is strongly rejected by the Standard Model (big bang) community. In relation to this question I received the following from a reader of my website.2

It is claimed, that the many lines of the Lyman alpha forest in the spectrum of most quasars prove that they are very far away. Also, it is claimed that increasing Lyman alpha forest lines is connected with increased magnitude of redshift, so supporting large distances. Is that observational true?

Continue reading

Have Population III stars finally been discovered?

What are Population III stars? In short, the alleged story is as follows:

The super-hot big bang fireball produced only hydrogen (~75%), helium (~25%) and tiny traces of lithium. So the first stars to form (given the name Population III stars) could only form from these gases. Astronomers label all elements heavier than helium as ‘metals.’  Thus they call these type of stars extremely metal-poor. But each successive generation of stars, being formed from the products of supernova explosions of the generation of stars before them, which produced all the heavier elements, became more and more metal rich. The nuclear fusion within stars during their life produced the heavier elements, the ‘metals,’ like carbon, oxygen, and nitrogen, which were released into space when the stars exploded. During the actual explosion it is theorized that the very heaviest elements were produced also. Population III stars allegedly were the first stars formed just shortly after the big bang.

Until now (as claimed) these original stars have never be observed, hence they were nothing more than hypothetical. But their existence is a big bang prediction.

Population I, II and III stars

Astronomers classify stars into three types: Population I, II and III. Population II are those generation of stars, which allegedly formed from the Population III stars and have only a low metal content. Population I stars were allegedly the last to form, hence are the youngest and hottest stars and those with high metal content. Population I and II stars were historically first identified in our Galaxy. Population I stars are found predominantly in the spiral disk of the Galaxy and Population II stars are found above and below the disk. They have other distinguishing features also but their metal content is the major distinguishing feature.

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Figure 1: A newly found galaxy called CR7 (seen here in an artist’s illustration) is the brightest yet known (considering its claimed distance) and may contain some of the oldest stars in the universe. Credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser

Those early-generation stars also first formed into small galaxies that later by merging with other galaxies grew larger, or so the story goes.1  Growth in galaxy size and in ‘metal’ content is called ‘galaxy evolution.’

The first generation of small galaxies was likely well in place 400 million years after the Big Bang. Following this initial phase of galaxy formation, galaxies then went through an extended phase of merging and coalescence with other galaxies, whereby they built up from masses of several thousand solar masses to billions of solar masses. This buildup process extended until the universe was roughly two billion years old. Then, due to some feedback process — now predominantly speculated to be AGN feedback — it is thought that this buildup process halted and gas accretion and star formation in the most massive galaxies halted and galaxies underwent a much different form of evolution. This later evolution continues to the present day.

This is the big bang evolution story, but it vitally needs those Population III stars or there is no story. Now it is claimed that Population III have been found in a very distant galaxy. Continue reading