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.

Who says biblical creationists aren’t real scientists?

The claim has been made over and over again that biblical creationists are not real scientists. This has been particularly applied to the natural or physical sciences as compared to the social sciences. Some claim that creationists can’t think properly because of their “distorted” worldview. Thus they can’t do real science. Of course this is all nonsense. Belief in a Creator God does not impede one progress in scientific research but there are many examples where evolutionary beliefs have done so. One example that springs to mind is that of junk DNA, which survived as a scientific concept, at least, partly due to tacit evolutionary assumptions, and as a result very much delayed our understanding of the genome.1

I recently watched a short YouTube film called the “The Truth About PhD Creationists,”which argues along the lines of my opening statement. The author contrasted one measurable metric that might be used to gauge the quality and success of a scientist’s career — his/her publications and their citations — between those of one of the most well-known “big guns” of creation science, Dr D. Russell Humphreys, and that of one of the most well-known atheist personalities Dr Lawrence Krauss.  Both have PhD’s in physics. See the table below reproduced from the YouTube film, with one additional line of data. The table is quite self-explanatory.

The obvious point made is that Humphreys, a biblical creationist, has not published anything like Krauss, a secular atheist. Continue reading

Is mathematics intrinsic to the Universe?

That is an important question. Is mathematics a convenient construct — a human invention — that we humans use to describe nature? Or is mathematics more fundamental — intrinsic to the Universe — mirroring the divine ordered creation of a reasonable logical Creator?

Immutable laws

Theoretical physicist Lee Smolin in his bookTime Reborn” argues that what he calls the Newtonian paradigm is a myth. What he labels the Newtonian paradigm is the attempt by theoretical physicists, beginning with Sir Isaac Newton, to describe the Universe with immutable laws, using a mathematical description. Those laws are unchanging in time, as reflected in the idea that Newton understood the laws of nature as the result of Divine creation and hence that they are unchanging in time. Newton wrote:2

And from true lordship it follows that the true God is living, intelligent, and powerful; from the other perfections, that he is supreme, or supremely perfect. He is eternal and infinite, omnipotent and omniscient; that is, he endures from eternity to eternity; and he is present from infinity to infinity; he rules all things, and he knows all things that happen or can happen.

From this standpoint he understood the laws of nature as the special creation of God. These resulted concomitant with the special creation of the Universe itself. The Universe is not the result of blind chance acting on some initial conditions and evolving accordance with those laws. Continue reading

Accelerating Universe: Standard ‘light bulbs’ not so standard

I once wrote about one of the problems of determining distance using the so-called standard ‘candle’ of the type Ia supernovae.1  That method is considered to be the gold standard in cosmic distance determination and hence in testing of the expanding universe paradigm. From those measurements, by two independent teams, an accelerating expansion of the Universe was claimed in 1998, for which the Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded in 2011.

That same galaxy in a NASA Swift image is shown, with bars indicating the location of supernova SN 2011fe. The Swift image is a false-color image with UV emission blue and optical emission red. Credit: NASA/Swift

An optical image of the galaxy M101, with bars indicating the location of supernova SN 2011fe. This NASA/Swift image is a false-color image with UV emission shown in blue and optical emission shown in red. Credit: NASA/Swift

Type Ia supernova were (are) believed to be a class of stellar explosions that resulted from progenitor stars with a very small range of masses and chemical properties. It was (is) believed that these could be accurately modelled and therefore they could be relied upon to produce the same intrinsic brightness in their explosions. It was believed therefore that they varied only by a very small degree in a distribution around a well established intrinsic brightness or absolute magnitude near MB ~ -19. That means they were believed to all have the same intrinsic brightness. Continue reading

Two challenges to the infallibility of the Holy Scriptures

Figure 3: Charles Darwin developed the idea of the general theory of evolution, which Smolin has copied by analogy.

Charles Darwin developed the idea of the general theory of evolution.

Charles Darwin published his “On Origin of Species” in 1859, which began a major attack on the veracity of the Word of God. Darwin’s message essentially was an attack on the true history in Genesis, even the actual historicity of the Genesis account of creation and the events that followed shortly thereafter. That ultimately means it was a challenge to the trustworthiness of the Bible.  Since that time we have seen a rapid decline of faith in the veracity and authority of God’s Word, starting with Genesis. The visible church has fallen in great apostasy.

Here when I write of God’s Words and their veracity and infallibility I refer to the God breathed Words in the original autographs, which for the New Testament were largely written in the ancient Greek vernacular.

Bishop Brooke Foss Westcott and Professor Fenton John Anthony Hort were conservative, Anglican (Church of England), scholars who produced a new Greek New Testament based on the Alexandrian codices (uncial books), mostly Vaticanus B and Sinaiticus ℵ (Aleph), which are believed by many to be among the oldest extant Greek texts. But age does not guarantee purity of a form closest to the original. Continue reading

Cosmic storytelling

A never-ending storyBB history

The big bang is a good story … as far as storytelling goes.

“Storytelling has been the single most powerful communication tool for thousands of years and we are just starting to understand how relevant and significant it is today.”1


 “Never let the truth get in the way of a good story,”

…as Mark Twain once is reputed to have said. Some doubt he said that, but knowing he was as an author of adventure fiction the claim is quite credible. Continue reading

Theory of Everything by Dark Matter

A letter to a colleague written April 1st, 2015, published April 6th, 2015.

Dear Obsidian Noire,

Thank you so much for you recent theoretical proofs in the Dark Matter Sector. The following is how I usually explain Dark Matter and those other entities from the Dark Sector to those who have doubts.

God said “Let there be light!”  The reason: the Universe began in total darkness.

For a long time the correct meaning of this statement in Genesis chapter 1 had been once lost in darkness, but we now know for science has shown us what it really means. The author of the text really meant that because even God could not see what He was doing, He created light. He had to. Once the light separated from the Darkness He could see enough to start sorting out the chaotic mess that had formed. But this way of speaking was just how the ‘early primitives’ thought and spoke about the Universe. We now know better. I will try to explain this in the simplest terms.

Einstein quoteAt the beginning the Darkness was all around in many forms including Dark Energy, Dark Radiation, Dark Flows, Dark Holes (also called black holes) and the most ubiquitous stuff of all, Dark Matter. All these entities belong to what we call in physics the ‘Dark Sector’, which now has become firmly established through modern science.

The Dark Ages was that period in the history of the Universe just after the big bang, when Dark Matter assembled the necessary materials to build all stars and galaxies. God was not involved so much in that as He was busy keeping the Darkness out while He created normal matter—protons and neutrons etc., the stuff we do observe in the Universe. Well, He started off the Universe in a big bang, that took a lot out of Him, and as a result the Darkness eventually won. Continue reading