Rare supernova discovery ushers in new era for cosmology

April 20, 2017
This composite image shows the gravitationally lensed type Ia supernova iPTF16geu, as seen with different telescopes. The background image shows a wide-field view of the night sky as seen with the Palomar Observatory located on Palomar Mountain, California. Far Left Image: Captured by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, this optical light observation shows the lens galaxy and its surrounding environment in the sky. Center Left Image: Captured by the Hubble Space Telescope, this is a 20x zoom infrared image of the lens galaxy. Center Right Image: Captured by the Hubble Space Telescope, this 5x optical light zoom reveals the four gravitationally lensed images of iPTF16geu. Far Right Image: Captured by the Keck Telescope, this infrared observation features the four gravitationally lensed images of iPTF16geu and the gravitational "arc" of its host galaxy. Credit: Joel Johansson, Stockholm University

With the help of an automated supernova-hunting pipeline and a galaxy sitting 2 bil-lion light years away from Earth that's acting as a "magnifying glass,'' astronomers have captured multiple images of a Type Ia supernova—the brilliant explosion of a star—appearing in four different locations on the sky. So far this is the only Type Ia discovered that has exhibited this effect.

This phenomenon called 'gravitational lensing' is an effect of Einstein's Theory of Relativity—mass bends light. This means that the gravitational field of a massive object—like a galaxy—can bend light rays that pass nearby and refocus them somewhere else, causing background objects to appear brighter and sometimes in multiple locations. Astrophysicists believe that if they can find more of these magni-fied Type Ia's, they may be able to measure the rate of the Universe's expansion to unprecedented accuracy and shed some light on the distribution of matter in the cosmos.

Fortunately, by taking a closer look at the properties of this rare event, two Law-rence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) researchers have come up with a method—a pipeline— for identifying more of these so-called "strongly lensed Type Ia supernovae" in existing and future wide-field surveys. A paper describing their approach was recently published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters. Mean-while, a paper detailing the discovery and observations of the 4 billion year old Type Ia , iPTF16geu, was published in Science on April 21.

"It is extremely difficult to find a gravitationally lensed supernova, let alone a lensed Type Ia. Statistically, we suspect that there may be approximately one of these in every 50,000 supernovae that we identify," says Peter Nugent, an astrophysicist in Berkeley Lab's Computational Research Division (CRD) and an author on both pa-pers. "But since the discovery of iPTF16geu, we now have some thoughts on how to improve our pipeline to identify more of these events."

The light from the supernova iPTF16geu and of its host galaxy is warped and amplified by the curvature of space mass of a foreground galaxy. In the case of the point-like supernova, the light is split into four images. These have been resolved with the Hubble SpaceTelescope. Credit: Original image by ALMA (ESO/NRAO/NAOJ), L. Calçada (ESO), Y. Hezaveh et al, edited and modified by Joel Johansson

Cosmic Surprise Sheds New Light on Cosmology

For many years, the transient nature of supernovae made them extremely difficult to detect. Thirty years ago, the discovery rate was about two per month. But thanks to the Intermediate Palomar Transient Factory (iPTF), a new survey with an innova-tive pipeline, these events are being detected daily, some within hours of when their initial explosions appear.

The process of identifying transient events, like supernovae, begins every night at the Palomar Observatory in Southern California, where a wide-field camera mounted on the robotic Samuel Oschin Telescope scans the sky. As soon as observa-tions are taken, the data travel more than 400 miles to the Department of Energy's (DOE's) National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC), which is located at Berkeley Lab. At NERSC, machine learning algorithms running on the fa-cility's supercomputers sift through the data in real-time and identify transients for researchers to follow up on.

On September 5, 2016, the pipeline identified iPTF16geu as a supernova candidate. At first glance, the event didn't look particularly out of the ordinary. Nugent notes that many astronomers thought it was just a typical Type Ia supernova sitting about 1 billion light years away from Earth.

Like most supernovae that are discovered relatively early on, this event got brighter with time. Shortly after it reached peak brightness (19th magnitude) Stockholm Uni-versity Professor in Experimental Particle Astrophysics Ariel Goobar decided to take a spectrum—or detailed light study—of the object. The results confirmed that the object was indeed a Type Ia supernova, but they also showed that, surprisingly, it was located 4 billion light years away. A second spectrum taken with the OSIRIS in-strument on the Keck telescope on Mauna Kea, Hawaii, showed without a doubt that the supernova was 4 billion light years away, and also revealed its host galaxy and another galaxy located about 2 billion light years away that was acting as a gravita-tional lens, which amplified the brightness of the supernova and caused it to appear in four different places on the sky.

The video will load shortly
This animation shows the phenomenon of strong gravitational lensing. This effect caused the supernova iPTF16geu to appear 50 times brighter than under normal circumstances and to be visible on the sky four times. Credit: Credit:ESA/Hubble, L. Calçada

"I've been looking for a lensed supernova for about 15 years. I looked in every pos-sible survey, I've tried a variety of techniques to do this and essentially gave up, so this result came as a huge surprise," says Goobar, who is lead author of the Science paper. "One of the reasons I'm interested in studying gravitational lensing is that it allows you to measure the structure of matter—both visible and dark matter—at scales that are very hard to get."

According to Goobar, the survey at Palomar was set up to look at objects in the nearby Universe, about 1 billion light years away. But finding a distant Type Ia su-pernova in this survey allowed researchers to follow up with even more powerful telescopes that resolved small-scale structures in the supernova host galaxy, as well as the lens galaxy that is magnifying it.

"There are billions of galaxies in the observable universe and it takes a tremendous effort to look in a very small patch of the sky to find these kind of events. It would be impossible to find an event like this without a magnified supernova directing you where to look," says Goobar. "We got very lucky with this discovery because we can see the small scale structures in these galaxies, but we won't know how lucky we are until we find more of these events and confirm that what we are seeing isn't an anomaly."

Another benefit of finding more of these events is that they can be used as tools to precisely measure the expansion rate of the Universe. One of the keys to this is gravitational lensing. When a strong gravitational lens produces multiple images of a background object, each image's light travels a slightly different path around the lens on its way to Earth. The paths have different lengths, so light from each image takes a different amount of time to arrive at Earth.

"If you measure the arrival times of the different images, that turns out to be a good way to measure the expansion rate of the Universe," says Goobar. "When people measure the expansion rate of the Universe now locally using supernovae or Cepheid stars they get a different number from those looking at early universe ob-servations and the cosmic microwave background. There is tension out there and it would be neat if we could contribute to resolving that quest."

This is an image of the gravitationally lensed iPTF16geu Type Ia supernova taken in near-infrared with the W.M. Keck Observatory. The lensing galaxy visible in the center has distorted and bent the light from iPTF16geu, which is behind it, to produce multiple images of the same supernova (seen around the central galaxy). The position, size and brightness of these images help astronomers infer the properties of the lensing galaxy. Credit: W. M. Keck Observatory

New Methods Sniff Out Lensed Supernovae

According to Danny Goldstein, a UC Berkeley astronomy graduate student and an author of the Astrophysical Journal letter, there have only been a few gravitationally lensed supernovae of any type ever discovered, including iPTF16geu, and they've all been discovered by chance.

"By figuring out how to systematically find strongly lensed Type Ia supernovae like iPTF16geu, we hope to pave the way for large-scale lensed supernova searches, which will unlock the potential of these objects as tools for precision cosmology," says Goldstein, who worked with Nugent to devise a method of for finding them in existing and upcoming wide-field surveys.

The key idea of their technique is to use the fact that Type Ia supernovae are "stan-dard candles"—objects with the same intrinsic brightness—to identify ones that are magnified by lensing. They suggest starting with supernovae that appear to go off in red galaxies that have stopped forming stars. These galaxies only host Type Ia su-pernovae and make up the bulk of gravitational lenses. If a supernova candidate that appears to be hosted in such a galaxy is brighter than the "standard" brightness of a Type Ia supernova, Goldstein and Nugent argue that there is a strong chance the su-pernova does not actually reside in the galaxy, but is instead a background super-nova lensed by the apparent host.

"One of the innovations of this method is that we don't have to detect multiple im-ages to infer that a supernova is lensed," says Goldstein. "This is a huge advantage that should enable us to find more of these events than previously thought possi-ble."

Using this method, Nugent and Goldstein predict that the upcoming Large Synoptic Survey Telescope should be able to detect about 500 strongly lensed Type Ia super-novae over the course of 10 years—about 10 times more than previous estimates. Meanwhile, the Zwicky Transient Facility, which begins taking data in August 2017 at Palomar, should find approximately 10 of these events in a three-year search. On-going studies show that each lensed Type Ia supernova image has the potential to make a four percent, or better, measurement of the of the universe. If realized, this could add a very powerful tool to probe and measure the cosmological parameters.

"We are just now getting to the point where our transient surveys are big enough, our pipelines are efficient enough, and our external data sets are rich enough that we can weave through the data and get at these rare events," adds Goldstein. "It's an exciting time to be working in this field."

iPTF is a scientific collaboration between Caltech; Los Alamos National Laboratory; the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee; the Oskar Klein Centre in Sweden; the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel; the TANGO Program of the University Sys-tem of Taiwan; and the Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Uni-verse in Japan. NERSC is a DOE Office of Science User Facility.

Explore further: Cosmic illusion revealed: Gravitational lens magnifies supernova

More information: "iPTF16 geu: A multiply imaged, gravitationally lensed type Ia supernova," Science (2017). science.sciencemag.org/cgi/doi/10.1126/science.aal2729

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1.4 / 5 (10) Apr 20, 2017
Seeing Red: Redshifts, Cosmology and Academic Science
Halton Arp

"Prior to the 1950's Fritz Zwicky, the Swiss astronomer who had an illustrious and
turbulent career in California, was aware that strong gravitational fields had been
shown to bend light rays -- as in the famous eclipse observations of the displacement of
positions of stars observed at a grazing angle to the sun's limb. At that time he started
looking for an extragalactic object which might be directly behind another, and thus
have its outer light rays bent inward by the gravitational field of the foreground object
so that it formed a ring or halo. Some 'ring galaxies' were found, but they all seemed
to be physical rings around the galaxy and not magnified background objects.

The more common situation to be expected was when the background object was
not exactly centered and the gravitational ring collapsed into a one sided arc ..."

1.4 / 5 (10) Apr 20, 2017

"... But no striking examples of that were found either, so the subject had gone dormant. The sudden revival of gravitational lensing to the huge industry it is today is simply due to the quasars. In the 1960's and 70's I started finding high densities of quasars concentrated around nearby, low-redshift galaxies. Because of their high redshifts, it was felt that they could not be associated with low-redshift galaxies ...

The Einstein Cross ...

... When it was first discovered it caused a panic because it was essentially a high redshift quasar in the nucleus of a low redshift galaxy ... Gravitational galaxy lensing had to be invoked for this one ...

'We put the slit of the spectrograph between quasars A and B in the Einstein Cross and we registered a broad Lyman alpha emission in each quasar. But between them we found a narrow Lyman alpha line -- it looks like there is some low density gas at the same redshift as the quasars between them.' ..."

1.4 / 5 (10) Apr 20, 2017

"... A jolt ran through me and I looked at him to try to read the expression on his face. As usual in such situations, his eyes avoided mine. The point was, of course, that a line between quasar A and B passed directly between the nucleus of the galaxy and quasar D. On the face of it high redshift gas was indicated near the nucleus of the low redshift galaxy. But what I knew, and what anyone can know looking at the Lyman alpha centered photograph in Color Plate 7-7, is that there is a putative Lyman alpha filament connecting quasar D to the galaxy nucleus. What the spectrum had confirmed was that this indeed was a low density, excited hydrogen filament connecting the two objects of vastly different redshift."

Now that Halton Arp is dead, who will check to see if there is any high-redshift material out of place in these images?

The 200-inch telescope was taken over by Caltech in 1980, and they have since allotted time only to confirmatory observations.
1.4 / 5 (10) Apr 20, 2017
Seeing Red: Redshifts, Cosmology and Academic Science
Halton Arp

"In the 1940's the largest telescope of its time, the 200-inch at Palomar, was conceived and built. Since Rockefeller and Carnegie were rival capitalists the Rockefeller Foundation could only give the money to California Institute of Technology rather than the Carnegie Institution of Washington where the world's leading astronomers were. Cal Tech, however had no Astronomy Department so an agreement was signed between the two Institutions that they would jointly operate the Observatory. The noted Carnegie astronomers such as Hubble, Baade, R. Minkowski then initially used most of the telescope time. Younger staff members were gradually included ...

Quasars were discovered in 1963 and astronomers rushed to observe them because they assumed their high redshifts meant they were at great distances and that the nature of the universe would thereby be revealed ..."

1.4 / 5 (10) Apr 20, 2017

"... The Cal Tech radio astronomer who isolated the positions of the first quasars asked for telescope time to observe their spectra and obtain their redshifts. He was told only certain of the faculty could observe with the 200-inch telescope. Those select few went on to measure the spectra and reap the headlines and the original discoverer left the field in disgust ...

There followed an interregnum of about 17 years in which the Cal Tech astronomy Department pressed for a larger and larger share of the telescope time. One must know that in the operating agreement for the Observatory that the Carnegie astronomers were appointed full faculty members at Cal Tech. Then in 1980 Cal Tech broke the agreement, taking over the 200-inch and severing the faculty appointments of the Carnegie astronomers. There were bitter protests by the suddenly discharged faculty (Appeals to the American Association of University Professors were not heeded) ..."

1.3 / 5 (10) Apr 20, 2017

"... it is not just a question of territorial expansion and control, there is also the question of eminence and prestige and the impossiblity of being wrong ...

This is how the elite body of astronomers, which is now the reigning authority in Astronomy, was formed. By now, of course, the students of Cal Tech have gone on to many other elite faculties and astronomers from Harvard, Princeton, Cambridge, etc. have arrived in Pasadena. So as with many self selected elites, their power has grown to be almost monolithic."
4.6 / 5 (11) Apr 20, 2017
What the spectrum had confirmed was that this indeed was a low density, excited hydrogen filament connecting the two objects of vastly different redshift.

Which is funny because the authors who actually did the work Arp is talking credit for there don't agree. Yee & De Robertis 1991 conclude that a clump of narrow Lya seen near the plane of the lensing galaxy is likely a star forming region in the lens QSO host of a satellite galaxy. This is just one example of how Arp systematically ignored other conclusions when presenting his evidence. After all there is no evidence of a physical connection between the narrow component and the lensing galaxy, if it were a connecting filament perhaps you would expect it to span the velocity space between the quasar and the lensing galaxy, but no. It's offset from the broad component by just 255 km/s while the lensing galaxy is offset by over 200,000 km/s. The spectroscopy also doesn't indicate it's a filament at all. Please stop spamming.
1 / 5 (7) Apr 20, 2017
gimp-0 must be a cal-tech alum.
1.4 / 5 (9) Apr 20, 2017
It bears reminding people that the Einstein Cross is hardly a stereotypical case of lensing. The more common scenario for lensing is when there is a slight misalignment, and the majority of the theories and models of gravitational lensing actually predict a ring effect as the result of the bending of light around a strong source of gravity. These forms are plainly circular -- whereas lensing should flatten them.

Not only that, but the mass-to-light ratio required to produce the Einstein Cross were pumped up by the authors beyond the actual textbook numbers.

And what kind of galaxy is it?

Arp points out that this is really just a measly dwarf galaxy, to begin with.

The lensing claims were never really scrutinized, but Arp struggled to get his critiques published every time.

This set of behaviors is what fear looks like. You just don't see it because it's dressed in equations.
1.4 / 5 (10) Apr 20, 2017
Arp states:

"if you extrapolate the luminosity required for an elliptical to have this M/L ratio it comes out MB = -25 mag. How bright is -25 mag.? Well conventional quasars start at MB = -23 mag. so this galaxy would have to be 2 magnitudes brighter than the supposed brightest objects in the universe, a conventional quasar!"
1.7 / 5 (11) Apr 21, 2017
My favorite part about this whole redshift drama -- the part that I think every person reading this needs to learn right now -- is the case that Arp makes for quantized redshifts. The world of science journalism really is a truly artificial world where the "experts" get final say on what is and isn't published, because the amount of ink which has been spilled confirming this fact is just truly enormous. It's been confirmed over and over, and we are talking very large datasets.

And as Arp's model requires, the quantization does not just apply to quasars; this quantization also shows up in the galaxy redshifts themselves.

The significance of that is just so off-the-charts important that it really makes a mockery of every single mainstream advocate. This stuff was known so, so long ago, and it's repeatedly confirmed, and really not so much of a peep from the science journalists.

Not just quasars, but entire galaxies are jumping in redshifts, i.e. -- they're coherent.
1.4 / 5 (10) Apr 21, 2017
And the sad part is that we have the link right here between the small and large scales. It's the first time that there has even been a real possibility of a true theory of everything which spans all scales.

And you guys are just so against believing anything which is not pronounced by the authorities that you are missing out on this amazing opportunity to join still small numbers of people who are operating at the very cutting edge of science, beyond the social dynamics and fake science news, authentically trying to work out how these quantized numbers can manifest at astrophysical scales.

It's honestly a sad state of affairs, because you guys all try to copy each others' bad information habits.

All of this energy you're expending, you guys could be trying to solve the actual problem that's now before all of us.

But, the things you've been taught have left you with very bad information habits.
1.5 / 5 (8) Apr 21, 2017
Quasars, Redshifts and Controversies
Halton Arp (p.112)

"In 1976, William Tifft of the Steward Observatory reported a long, careful series of measurements of binary galaxies. These are galaxies so close together and of such similar redshift that they are accepted as being physically associated, presumably orbiting around each other. The startling part of his report, however, was that the differences in redshift between members of these pairs of galaxies were quantized in steps of 72 km s-1 [the galaxies were receding from the Earth in whole steps of velocities of 72 kms per second] ...

It is amazing for me to recall now the cutting jokes, the ridicule with which this result was greeted. A graduate of Harvard with a Ph.D. from Caltech, Tifft had impeccable credentials and a record of serious, careful research ..."

1.4 / 5 (10) Apr 21, 2017

"... Nevertheless I was treated to some lunchtime conversation at Caltech in which an influential astronomer joked (well, everyone laughed) about retroactively cancelling his degree. Tifft's home institution stood by him, however, and he has continued to produce ground-breaking research with patience and dignity.

The initial aberrant result was well on its way to being buried, however, when a few years later a rather dramatic event occurred.

Tifft was on sabbatical in Italy and happened to be lecturing on the quantization result when a skeptical member of the class said, 'Here is a new list of more accurate redshifts from radio measurements of hydrogen; I am sure you won't find periodicity in here.'

Not only did the quantization appear in this independent set of very accurate double galaxy measurements, but it was the most clear cut, obviously significant demonstration of the effect yet seen ..."

1.4 / 5 (10) Apr 21, 2017

"... It is perhaps not very uplifting at this point to hear about the lack of reaction of the astronomers who had made the measurements or the difficulty in getting the significance of the results recognized and discussed. It is still a subject carefully avoided. The results were later reconfirmed by some optical measures in the Southern Hemisphere and then very strongly confirmed again by the large number of accurate measures in the independent sample shown in Figure 7-3.

It would seem difficult, to put it mildly, to have an object with a redshift which is due to velocity and then to have this object simply disappear or dematerialize when it is not traveling at 72 km s-1 or some multiple thereof. The quantization, in itself, therefore, establishes the existence of redshifts which are not caused by velocity."
1.4 / 5 (10) Apr 21, 2017
Hilton Ratcliffe, The Static Universe: Exploding the Myth of Cosmic Expansion (Montreal 2010), pp. 74-78

"If the energy levels of cosmological light are really just a function of remoteness [of bodies in distant space] given the big bang postulates, a smooth distribution of matter in the expanding universe, then we would expect that redshift values should [be] present without digital breaks. The tabulated values would appear randomly, reflecting the suggested patternless distribution of light sources in the cosmos. If, on the other hand, redshift relates somehow to the internal energy of the source ..., then we might expect something entirely different. Speculation aside, the [standard model of cosmology] does not accommodate periodic redshifts. Are they observed?

The Karlsson Effect refers to certain values in redshifts of cosmological objects that appear more commonly than others ..."

1.4 / 5 (10) Apr 21, 2017

"... Preferred values in quasar redshifts were first detected by Margaret and Geoffrey Burbidge in 1967. Four years later, K.G. Karlsson confirmed the effect and derived a formula that constrained the periodicity. That earned him the honor of having his name pinned to an observed effect that was, in the words of [Halton] Chip Arp, 'one of the truly great discoveries in cosmic physics.'

Three decades later, with far more comprehensive catalogues of [cosmic object] data to work from, Doctors Burbidge and Napier published a summary of the by now overwhelming evidence for redshift periodicity entitled 'The Distribution of Redshifts in New Samples of Quasi-Stellar Objects [Quasars]' ...

Of course there was considerable resistance to the discovery ..."

1.4 / 5 (10) Apr 21, 2017

"... The upholders of orthodox law in cosmology quite naturally hoped that the effect would be local only, and they might then explain the patterns of 'cosmic structure in the direction of the north galactic pole' which 'probably would have caused such effect' (these are the words of an anonymous referee rejecting the submission of my paper on anomalous redshifts) ... [Then cosmic] wide surveys like the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) soon presented ample data confirming the Karlsson effect for as far [out into the cosmos] as we are able to measure.

In 2009, Martin Lopez-Corredoria presented a summary of quasar [quantum] anomalies ...

The periods do exist in the SDSS data if the base value taken is the host galaxy's redshift and not Z = 0 [redshift = 0] as used by the studies that [previously] found no unusual preferred [quantized redshift] values ..."
1.4 / 5 (10) Apr 21, 2017
Hilton Ratcliffe again ...

"Evidence mounted up in measurement after measurement [of quantized redshifts], yet [denial] on the part of entrenched astronomers was resolute and inflexible. Martin Rees, who at this time directed the Institute of Theoretical Astronomy at Cambridge University, led the charge. His position was unstable! After all, his entire career in space science has been built upon the notion of universal expansion. He has written best-selling books on the subject. It would be totally unreasonable to expect him to recant and turn in both his doctorate and his knighthood just because his ideas were in conflict with observation. Notwithstanding his valiant efforts to contain the revolt, it soon became obvious beyond reasonable doubt that cosmological redshifts are quantized. To deny it would be akin to contesting that the sky is blue. Yet it is denied with venom. How sad for science ..."
1.4 / 5 (10) Apr 21, 2017
The Virtue of Heresy: Confessions of a Dissident Astronomer
Hilton Ratcliffe (2nd Ed, 2008)

"In March 2006, M.B. Bell and D. McDiarmid of the National Research Council of Canada published an analysis of 46,400 (that's right -- forty six thousand!) quasar redshifts from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. They conclude, 'The peak found corresponds to a redshift period of ∆z = ~0.70. Not only is a distinct power peak observed, the locations of the peaks in the redshift distributions are in agreement with the preferred redshifts predicted by the intrinsic redshift equation. [45]"

[45] M.B. Bell and D. McDiarmid, Six Peaks Visible in Redshift Distribution of 46,400 SDSS Quasars ... Intrinsic Redshift Model (arXiv:astro-ph/0603169 v1 7 Mar 2006)
4.6 / 5 (9) Apr 21, 2017
The point was, of course, that a line between quasar A and B passed directly between the nucleus of the galaxy and quasar D. On the face of it high redshift gas was indicated near the nucleus of the low redshift galaxy.
Gravitational lensing theory had established that elliptical distributions of mass could lead to quadrupolar images of quasars with a 5th image, dim and non-magnified, near the center, often lost in the glare of the lensing mass. See for example. Elliptic Mass Distributions versus Elliptic Potentials in Gravitational Lenses. Kassiola, A. & Kovner, I : Astrophysical Journal v.417, p.450. http://adsabs.har...17..450K That was published in 1993, 5 years before Arp's book, so Arp was merely observing and confirming something, the 5th image, that had been predicted (not post-dicted) by Gravitational lensing theory.
4.6 / 5 (10) Apr 21, 2017
if you extrapolate the luminosity required for an elliptical to have this M/L ratio it comes out MB = -25 mag.

What an interesting claim. However without any way to scrutinise the calculation this no one should take him at his word.

On the topic of the Einstein Cross you can measure the delay between the quasar images. Quasars fluctuate in brightness and gravitational lensing says that the images will have slight time delays with respect to each other due to the Einstein and Shaprio delays. For Q2237+030, the delays are on the order of 3, 6 and 35 hours [Vakulik 2006]. Yes, hours. And yet if these were separate objects near the lensed galaxy they would be separated by about 4800 light years, and yet they are in almost perfect synchronicity from our unique viewing angle. So either this galaxy is the size of a solar system or it is a gravitational lens.
5 / 5 (10) Apr 21, 2017
M.B. Bell and D. McDiarmid of the National Research Council of Canada published an analysis of 46,400 (that's right -- forty six thousand!) quasar redshifts from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey.

Which Bell himself later retracted.

"It is shown here that a periodicity of Delta(z)~0.6 is imprinted on the redshift-number distribution by this selection effect. Because this effect cannot be rigorously corrected for, astronomers need to be aware of it in any investigation that uses the SDSS N(z) distribution. Its presence also means that the SDSS quasar data cannot be used either to confirm or to rule out the Delta(z)~0.6 redshift period reported previously in other, unrelated quasar data."

Bell & Comeau 2009, arxiv:0911.5700

Hartnett (another periodicity nut) also reached the same conclusion in 2009. Both you and Ratcliffe are guilty of extreme cherrypicking.
Apr 21, 2017
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
1.4 / 5 (10) Apr 21, 2017
What I think many of you guys do not realize is that when somebody publishes one of these papers, it is oftentimes their last. You guys keep on treating everything which is going on as though there is no pressure being applied. Actually, in case after case, papers are rejected -- sometimes without even sending them off for review, on the basis of the claim alone (!) -- and the authors have to shop them around.

There are also examples of younger astronomers not fully understanding the implications, and suddenly finding themselves unable to publish anything at all.

The number of associations between objects of differing redshifts that has been published over the past few decades is in the hundreds by now.

Think about your approach to this controversy: You're refusing to learn it, and jumping at the first straw you can grab that confirms your case.

Instead of learning everything you can about the controversy, you're here convincing others to copy your lazy approach.
1.4 / 5 (10) Apr 21, 2017
This really comes down to your false narratives about what you imagine a big change in theory to look like. You have this false notion that it would be an orderly affair.

I am not your enemy. That's not how you will remember me.

People need to grow up, and realize that politics happens in science too.

Take the time to learn the arguments on BOTH sides. If you are too short on time to read Quasars, Redshifts and Controversies or Seeing Red, then spend an hour watching this Arp lecture here:


To fully appreciate the argument that has been put forward, you need learn all of the fronts on which it is happening so that as new press releases come out, you can evaluate for yourself whether or not Arp is vindicated -- and whether or not you believe the claims being made in the press release.

There are no shortcuts to this process of forming your own opinion.
1.6 / 5 (7) Apr 21, 2017
And, btw, all of these people who take the time to announce on phys.org that they are filtering out arguments which they don't agree with, realize that those sorts of behaviors will of course happen in the event of ANY big upheaval in the space sciences - legitimate or not.

These people who do this will be the last to know of any big change happening, and they will of course fall in line in the event that the experts publicly change their positions.

Their announcement is that they are thought followers -- not thought leaders who have the courage to question their own beliefs in the light of ongoing controversies.

It means so little.
4.5 / 5 (8) Apr 21, 2017
And, btw, all of these people who take the time to announce on phys.org that they are filtering out arguments which they don't agree with, realize that those sorts of behaviors will of course happen in the event of ANY big upheaval in the space sciences - legitimate or not.
In your case, they are ignoring a blowhard who leaves dozens of posts worth of gish-gallop/verbal diarrhea on a single article and who responds to challenges to his statement mainly going off on tangents. In short, they're not filtering out arguments, they are filtering out an asshole.
1 / 5 (5) Apr 21, 2017
"Any discussion of something new requires dialogue between hypothesis and criticism. If animated and vigorous this is controversy. It is supposed to uncover what is wrong and illuminate what is correct, or possibly correct. The more energetically this process goes on, the more progress can be made, particularly if further testing is stimulated. Controversy can be extremely valuable. But some people on the other side of the present controversy have denied that there was a legitimate controversy. They insist that the issues were all resolved long ago, that no valid evidence of new effects exists, and that further discussion or testing is a waste of time."

- Halton Arp in Quasars, Redshifts and Controversies
1 / 5 (4) Apr 21, 2017
The Golem: What You Should Know About Science
Collins / Pinch

"citizens as citizens need understand only controversial science. One reviewer argues: 'it is quite easy to think of political decisions with a scientific side to them where the science is noncontroversial' and offers as an example the effect on medical institutions of the development of a predictive test for Huntington's disease. But if the science is non-controversial, why do those running the medical institutions need to understand the deep nature of the science that gave rise to the results? If the test is uncontroversially valid they can make their decisions without understanding how agreement about the test was reached. Thus ... we stand by our claim that 'For citizens who want to take part in the democratic processes of a technological society, all the science they need to know about is controversial.'"
4.2 / 5 (5) Apr 21, 2017
Seeing Red: Redshifts, Cosmology and Academic Science
Halton Arp

This has already been addressed...see for example: https://youtu.be/...P3Y?t=67
1 / 5 (5) Apr 21, 2017
From yesterday ...


Nobel laureates condemn 'unimaginative' research funding models
Peer review process punishes academics who 'challenge the dogma' of their field, scientists claim

April 20, 2017

"Research funding bodies do not like researchers who 'challenge the dogma' of their field, and hence give the impression that 'innovation is not valued', a Nobel laureate has warned ..."
1.6 / 5 (7) Apr 21, 2017
A short list of vindications for Arp:

(1) Alignment of quasar minor axes

(2) Numerous apparent interactions of objects of wildly different redshifts

(3) Numerous instances where high-redshift quasars appear aligned with the axes of low-redshift "foreground" galaxies

(4) Intervening galaxies are 4 times more prevalent along lines of sight to GRB's than quasars

(5) Quasars seemingly observed in front of foreground galaxies

(6) A quasar that exhibits 10x superluminal motions at inferred distance

(7) A quasar group so large that it spans 5% of the known universe at inferred distance

(8) No observation of time dilation in quasar variations

(9) Quasars have been shown to exhibit proper motion (!), which should not be possible at inferred distances

(10) Quasar clustering (not expected from Big Bang theory)
4.4 / 5 (7) Apr 21, 2017
A short list of vindications for Arp:

It's all a conspiracehhh to hide the troof!
1 / 5 (6) Apr 21, 2017
No, it's called saving the theory. You already know the game. You're playing it.
2.3 / 5 (3) Apr 22, 2017
BTW: The observation of proper motion in quasars is a paradigm-busting observation. If you look, there are of course mainstream arguments which can "save the theory" for (1) - (10) above -- EXCEPT, I believe, for point (9) proper motion.

"Only the detection of an irrefutable proper motion of parallax would definitely establish 3C 273 as an object within our Galaxy."

M. Schmidt, "3C 273: A Star-like Object with Large Red-Shift," Nature 197 (March 16, 1963), p. 1040.

Well, proper motion has by now been observed for numerous quasars ...

Quasar Apparent Proper Motion Observed by Geodetic VLBI Networks

It was unfortunately a small study, but when astronomers looked, they had no trouble at all finding proper motion for quasars.

How exactly can we see these things moving if they are supposed to be at these crazy far inferred distances?!

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