23 Quasar Redshifts


Quasar Redshifts

Although some of the objects now known as quasars had previously been recognized as belonging to a new and different class of phenomena, because of their peculiar spectra, the actual discovery of the quasars can be said to date from the time, in 1963, when Maarten Schmidt identified the spectrum of the radio source 3C 273 as being shifted 16 percent toward the red. Most of the other identifying characteristics originally ascribed to the quasars have had to be qualified as more data have been accumulated. One early description, for example, defined them as “star-like objects identified with radio sources.” But present-day observations show that in most cases the quasars have complex structures that are definitely un-starlike, and there is a large class of quasars from which no significant radio emission has been detected. But the high redshift has continued to be the hallmark of the quasar, and its distinctive character has been more strongly emphasized as the observed range of values has been extended upward. The second redshift measured, that of 3C 48, is 0.369, substantially above the first measurement. 0.158. By early 1967, when about 100 redshifts were available, the highest value on record was 2.223, and at the present writing it is up to 3.78.

Extension of the redshift range above l.00 raised a question of interpretation. On the basis of the previous understanding of the origin of the Doppler shift, a recession redshift above 1.00 would indicate a relative speed greater than that of light. The general acceptance of Einstein’s contention that the speed of light is an absolute limit made this interpretation unacceptable to the astronomers. and the relativity mathematics were invoked to resolve the problem. Our analysis in Volume I shows that this is a misapplication of these mathematical relations In the situations to which those relations actually do apply, there are contradictions between values obtained by direct measurement and those obtained by indirect means, such as. for instance, arriving at a speed measurement by dividing coordinate distance by clock time. In these instances the relativity mathematics (the Lorentz equations) are applied to the indirect measurements to bring them into conformity with the direct measurements, which are accepted as correct. The Doppler shifts are direct measurements of speeds, and require no correction. A redshift of 2.00 indicates a relative outward motion with a scalar magnitude of twice the speed of light.

While the high redshift problem was circumvented in conventional astronomical thought by this sleight-of-hand performance with the relativity mathematics, the accompanying distance-energy problem has been more recalcitrant, and has resisted all attempts to resolve it, or to evade it. Reference was made to this problem in Chapter 21, but inasmuch as it constitutes a crucial issue, for which the theory of the universe of motion has an answer, while conventional theory does not, a review of the situation will be appropriate in the present connection.

If the quasars are at cosmological distances—that is, the distances corresponding to the redshifts on the assumption that they are ordinary recession redshifts—then the amount of energy that they are emitting is far too great to be explained by any known energy generation process, or even any plausible speculative process. On the other hand, if the energies are reduced to credible levels by assuming that the quasars are less distant, then conventional science has no explanation for the large redshifts.

Obviously something has to give. One or the other of these two limiting assumptions has to be abandoned. Either there are hitherto undiscovered processes that generate vastly more energy than any process now known, or there are hitherto unknown factors that increase the quasar redshifts far beyond the normal recession values. For some reason, the rationale of which is difficult to understand, the majority of astronomers seem to believe that the redshift alternative is the only one that requires a revision or extension of existing physical theory. The argument most frequently advanced against the contentions of those who favor a non-cosmological explanation of the redshifts is that a hypothesis, which requires a change in physical theory should be accepted only as a last resort. What these individuals are overlooking is that this last resort is the only thing left. If modification of existing theory to explain the redshifts is ruled out, then existing theory. must be modified to explain the magnitude of the energy generation.

Furthermore, the energy alternative is much more drastic, inasmuch as it not only requires the existence of some totally new process, but also involves an enormous increase in the scale of the energy generation, a rate far beyond anything now known. All that is required in the redshift situation, on the other hand, even if a solution on the basis of known processes cannot be obtained, is a new process. This process is not called upon to explain anything more than is currently recognized as being within the capability of the known recession process; it merely has to account for the production of the redshifts at less distant spatial locations. Even without the new information derived in the development of the theory of the universe of motion it should be evident that the redshift alternative is by far the better way out of the existing impasse between the quasar energy and redshift theories. It is therefore significant that this is the explanation that emerges from the application of the Reciprocal System of theory to the problem.

Such considerations are somewhat academic, as we have to accept the world as we find it, whether or not we like what we find. It is worth noting, however, that here again, as in so many instances in the preceding pages, the answer that emerges from the new theoretical development takes the simplest and most logical path. Indeed, the answer to this quasar problem does not even involve breaking as much new ground as expected by those astronomers who favor a non-cosmological explanation of the redshifts. As they see the situation, some new physical process or principle must be invoked in order to add a “non-velocity component” to the recession redshift of the quasars. But we find that no such new process or principle is needed. The additional redshift is simply the result of an added speed; one that has hitherto escaped recognition because it is not capable of representation in the conventional spatial reference system.

The preceding chapter explained the nature and origin of the second component of the redshifts of the quasars, the explosion-generated component, and showed that the validity of this explanation is confirmed by an analysis of the three-member “associations” identified by Halton Arp. In this present chapter we will examine the quasar redshifts in more detail.

As indicated in the preceding pages, the limiting value of the explosion speed, and redshift, is two net units in one dimension. If the explosion speed is divided equally between the two active dimensions of the intermediate region, the quasar can convert to motion in time when the explosion component of the redshift in the initial dimension is 2.00, and the total quasar redshift is 2.326. At the time Quasars and Pulsars was published only one quasar redshift that exceeded the 2.326 value by any substantial amount had been reported. As pointed out in that work, the 2.326 redshift is not an absolute maximum, but a level at which conversion of the motion of the quasar to a new status, which it will ultimately assume in any event, can take place. Thus the very high value 2.877 attributed to the quasar 4C 05.34 either indicated the existence of some process whereby the conversion that is theoretically able to occur at 2.326 is delayed. or else was an erroneous measurement. Inasmuch as no other data bearing on the issue were available, it did not appear advisable to attempt to decide between the two alternatives at that time. In the subsequent years, many additional redshifts above 2.326 have been found, and it has become evident that extension of the quasar redshifts into these higher levels is a frequent occurrence. The theoretical situation has therefore been reviewed, and the nature of the process that is operative at the higher redshifts has been ascertained.

As we have seen, the 3.5 redshift factor that prevails below the 2.326 level is the result of an equal division of seven equivalent space units between a dimension that is parallel to the dimension of the spatial motion and a perpendicular dimension. Such an equal division is the normal result of the operation of probability where there are no influences that favor one distribution over another, but other distributions are not totally excluded. There is a small, but not negligible, probability of an unequal distribution. Instead of the normal 3½ - 3½ distribution of the seven units of speed, the division may become 4 - 3, 4½ - 2½ etc. The total number of quasars with redshifts above the level corresponding to the 3½ - 3½ distribution is relatively small, and any random group of moderate size—say 100 quasars—would not be expected to contain more than one, if any. A representative random group of quasars examined in Chapter 25 has none.

An asymmetric dimensional distribution has no significant observable effects at the lower speed levels (although it would produce anomalous results in a study such as the analysis of Arp’s associations in Chapter 22 if it were more common), but it becomes evident at the higher levels because it results in redshifts exceeding the normal 2.326 limit. Because of the second power nature of the inter-regional relation, the 8 units involved in the explosion speed, 7 of which are in the intermediate region, become 64 units, 56 of which are in that region. The possible redshift factors above 3.5 therefore increase in steps of 0.125. The theoretical maximum, corresponding to a distribution to one dimension only, would be 7.0, but the probability becomes negligible at some lower level, apparently in the neighborhood of 6.0. The corresponding redshift values range up to a maximum of about 4.0. The largest redshifts thus far measured are as follows:


Quasar Observed Calculated Factor
2000-330 3.78 3.75 6.000
OQ 172 3.53 3.54 5.625
2228-393 3.45 3.47 5.500
OH 471 3.40 3.40 5.375

An increase in the redshift factor due to a change in the dimensional distribution does not involve any increase in the distance in space. All quasars with redshifts of 2.326 and above are therefore at approximately the same spatial distance. This is the explanation of the seeming inconsistency involved in the observed fact that the brightness of the quasars with extremely high redshifts is comparable to that of the quasars in the redshift range around 2.00.

The stellar explosions that initiate the chain of events leading to the ejection of a quasar from the galaxy of origin reduce a large part of the matter of the exploding stars to kinetic and radiant energy. The remainder of the stellar mass is broken down into gas and dust particles. A portion of this dispersed material penetrates into the sections of the galaxy surrounding the region where the explosions take place, and when one such section is ejected as a quasar it contains some of this fast-moving dust and gas. Since the maximum particle speeds are above those required for escape from the gravitational attraction of the individual stars, this material gradually makes its way outward, and eventually assumes the form of a cloud of dust and gas around the quasar—an atmosphere, we might call it. The radiation from the constituent stars of the quasar passes through this atmosphere, giving rise to absorption lines in the spectrum. The dispersed material surrounding a relatively young quasar is moving with the main body, and the absorption redshift is therefore approximately equal to the emission value.

The constituent stars grow older during the time that the quasar moves outward, and in the later stages of its existence some of these stars reach their destructive limits. These stars then explode as Type II supernovae in the manner previously described. As we have seen, such explosions eject one cloud of explosion products outward into space, and another similar cloud outward into time (equivalent to inward in space). When the explosion speed of the products ejected into time is superimposed on the speed of the quasar, which is already near the sector boundary, these products pass into the cosmic sector and disappear.

The outward motion of the explosion products ejected into space is equivalent to an inward motion in time. It therefore opposes the motion of the quasar, which is outward in time. If this inward motion could be observed independently it would produce a blueshift, as it is directed toward our location, rather than away from it. But since this motion occurs only in combination with the outward motion of the quasar its effect is to reduce the net outward speed and the magnitude of the redshift. Thus the slower-moving products of the secondary explosions move outward in the same manner as the quasar itself, and their inverse speed components merely delay their arrival at the point where conversion to motion in time takes place.

A quasar in one of these later stages of its existence is thus surrounded not only by an atmosphere moving with the quasar itself, but also by one or more independent clouds of particles moving away from the quasar in time (equivalent space). Each cloud of particles gives rise to an absorption redshift differing from the emission value by the magnitude of the inward speed imparted to these particles by the internal explosions. As pointed out in the discussion of the nature of scalar motion, any object that is moving in this manner may also acquire a vectorial motion. The vectorial speeds of the quasar components are small compared to their scalar speeds, but they may be large enough to cause some measurable deviations from the scalar values. In some cases this results in an absorption redshift slightly above the emission value. Because of the inward direction of the speeds resulting from the secondary explosions, all other absorption redshifts differing from the emission values are below the emission redshifts.

The speed imparted to the ejected particles has no appreciable effect on the recession’ z like the increase in effective speed beyond the 2.326 level, therefore, the change has to take place in the redshift factor, and it is limited to steps of 0.125, the minimum change in that factor. The possible absorption redshifts of a quasar thus exist in a regular series of values differing by 0.125z½ Inasmuch as the value of z for the quasars reaches a maximum at 0.326, and all variability of the redshifts above 2.326 results from changes in the redshift factor, the theoretical values of the possible absorption redshifts above the 2.326 level are identical for all quasars, and coincide with the possible values of the emission redshifts.

Since most of the observable high redshift quasars are relatively old, their constituents are in a state of violent activity. This vectorial motion introduces a margin of uncertainty into the measurements of the emission redshift, and makes it impossible to demonstrate an exact correlation between theory and observation. The situation is more favorable in the case of the absorption redshifts because the measured absorption values for each of the more active quasars constitute a series, and a series relation can be demonstrated even where there is a substantial degree of uncertainty in the individual values.

This is illustrated in Table VII, which compares the measured absorption redshifts of three of the high redshift quasars with the theoretically possible values. The correlation is impressive in the case of the quasar OH 471. With the exception of the value at redshift factor 3.75, all of the observed redshifts are within 0.01 of the theoretical values, and only one of the first seven theoretically possible absorption redshifts is missing from the observed list. In this instance the agreement between the values is close enough to be conclusive in itself. The differences between the theoretical and measured values for the other quasars in the table are typically about 0.02. Since the interval between successive theoretical redshifts is only 0.07, the 0.02 discrepancy is uncomfortably large, when each correlation is considered individually. But when all of the values for the quasar 4C 05.34 are compared, as a series, with the series of theoretical values, the two series clearly agree. The data for the third quasar in the table are more scattered, but the general trend of the values is similar.

Because the explosion. redshift is the product of the redshift factor and z½, each quasar with a recession speed (z) less than 0.326 has its own set of possible absorption redshifts, the successive members of each series differing by 0.125z2. One of the largest systems in this range that has been studied thus far is that of the quasar 0237-233, the observed redshifts of which are compared with the theoretical values in Table IX. An asterisk indicates an average of two or more measured values.

Similar data for the quasars PHL 938 and 0424-131 are included in the tabulation. The theoretical absorption redshifts in this table are calculated from the observed emission redshifts (indicated by the symbol Em) and are therefore subject to any errors that may have been made in the determination of the emission shifts. Apparently no major errors are involved, as the


Calc. OH 471 4C 05.34 0830+115
5.25 3.33 3.34    
5.125 3.25 3.25    
5 3.18 3.19    
4.875 3.11 3.12    
4.75 3.04      
4.625 2.97 2.97   2.95
4.50 2.90 2.91 2.88 2.91
4.375 2.83   2.81  
4.25 2.75 2.77 2.77
4.125 2.68      
4.00 2.61   2.59  
3.875 2.54      
3.75 2.47 2.49 2.47  
3.625 2.40      
3.50 2.33      
3.375 2.25     2.22
3.25 2.18   2.18  
3.125 2.11     2.13

correlations between theory and observation are just as close as in Table VIII, where the theoretical absorption values are independent of any measurements.

In general, the negative component added to the particle speed by the secondary (internal) explosions is limited to about 1.50, but in some cases absorption redshifts 2.00 or more below the emission values have been reported. The significance of these very low values is still uncertain. Since the speed of the secondary explosion products is independent of that of the main body of the quasar, the dimensional distribution of this speed may be different from that of the speed of the quasar, and it is not unlikely that the low redshifts are due to combinations of explosion speed and change in the dimensional distribution. There is no currently available information against which this hypothesis can be checked, and the very low values have therefore been omitted from the tabulations.

Absorption redshifts have been identified in many quasar spectra, but the number of rich systems thus tar located is relatively small. This is significant because the length of the absorption series is an indication of the extent to which disintegration of the quasar by destruction of its constituent stars has


Factor 0237-223 PHL 938 0424-131
Calc. Obs. Calc. Obs. Calc. Obs.
3.5 2.223 2.223Em 1.955 1.955Em 2.165 2.165Em
3.375 2.154 2.176        
3.125 2.019 2.013        
3.0 1.948 1.955 2.875      
2.75     1.588 1.592 1.763 1.768
2.625     1.696 1.715    
2.5 1.674 1.673* 1.465 1.463    
2.375 1.605 1.623*     1.561 1.579
2.25 1.536 1.526*     1.494 1.532
2.125     1.281 1.261    
2.00 1.399 1.364 1.220 1.227*    

taken place. Some quasars are already so badly disintegrated that they will probably never reach the point at which they convert to motion in time while they are still in the form of aggregates of stars. No doubt the number of these rich systems will be increased to some extent as more observations are made, but it seems evident, on the basis of the information now available, that they are a minority. Most of the larger quasars apparently convert to motion in time while the quasar structure is still practically intact.

The reason for the difference in behavior between these two classes of quasars is that two different processes are involved. Demise of the quasar within the spatial reference system is due to age. When the great majority of the stars that constitute the fast-moving galactic fragment that we call a quasar have reached the age limit of matter, and have individually disintegrated, the quasar ceases to exist as such, irrespective of where it may happen to be at that time. On the other hand, the disappearance of the quasar at the sector boundary, the point at which it begins moving in actual time, is a matter of speed, and consequently of distance. A quasar that originates at a distant location begins moving outward in time away from our location when the net total explosion speed relative to our galaxy, including the component due to our distance from the point of origin of the quasar, reaches the two-unit level. However, the transition from gravitation in space to gravitation in time does not take place until the explosion speed alone is two units. A quasar that has left our field of view by reason of the sector limit is still observable from other locations closer to the point of origin until the gravitational transition occurs.

Ordinarily a long period of time is required to bring a significant number of the stars of a quasar up to the age limit that initiates explosive activity. Consequently, absorption redshifts differing from the emission values do not usually appear until a quasar reaches the redshift range above 1.75. From the nature of the process, however, it is clear that there will be exceptions to this general rule. The outer, more recently accreted, portions of the galaxy of origin are composed mainly of younger stars, but special conditions during the growth of the galaxy, such as a relatively recent consolidation with another large aggregate, may have introduced a concentration of older stars into the portion of the structure of the galaxy that was thrown off in the explosion. These older stars then reach their age limits and initiate the chain of events that produces the absorption redshifts at a stage of the quasar life that is earlier than usual. It is unlikely, however, that the number of old stars included in any newly ejected quasar is ever large enough to generate the amount of internal activity that would lead to an extensive absorption redshift system.

In the higher redshift range a new factor enters into the situation and accelerates the trend toward more absorption redshifts. A substantial amount of explosive activity is normally required in order to impart the increments of speed to the dust and gas components of the quasar that are necessary for the production of absorption systems. Beyond an explosion speed of two units, however, this limitation no longer applies. Here the diffuse components are subject to the environmental influences of the cosmic sector, which tend to reduce the inverse speed (equivalent to increasing the speed), thus producing additional absorption redshifts in the normal course of quasar evolution, without the necessity of further generation of energy in the quasars. Above this level, therefore, “the quasars… all show strong absorption lines.” Strittmatter and Williams, from whose review of the subject the foregoing statement was taken, go on to say that

It is as if there were a threshold for the presence of absorbing material at emission redshifts of about 2.2.234

This empirical conclusion agrees with our theoretical finding that there is a definite sector boundary at redshift 2.326.

In addition to the absorption redshifts in the optical spectra, to which the foregoing discussion refers, some absorption redshifts have also been found at radio frequencies. The first such discovery, in the radiation from the quasar 3C 286, generated considerable interest because of a rather widespread impression that the radio absorption requires an explanation different from that applicable to absorption at optical frequencies. The original investigators Concluded that the radio redshift is due to absorption by neutral hydrogen in some galaxy lying between us and the quasar. Since the absorption redshift is about 80 percent of the emission redshift in this case, they regarded the observations as evidence in favor of the cosmological redshift hypothesis. On the basis of the theory of the universe of motion, the radio observations do not introduce anything new. The absorption process that operates in the quasars is applicable to all radiation frequencies. and the existence of an absorption redshift at a radio frequency has the same significance as the existence of an absorption redshift at an optical frequency. The measured radio redshifts of 3C 286 in emission and absorption are 0.85 and 0.69 respectively. At redshift factor 2.75, the theoretical absorption redshift corresponding to the emission value of 0.85 is 0.68.

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