January 14, 2005

Shifty Red Shifts

A couple of days ago, I pointed to SciScoop || Exploring Tomorrow as one of the best sites for keeping up with the cutting edge of the sciences. That site's co-founder, Ricky James, has just come through again with one of the finest roundups of a controversy in astronomy that I can recall. In "Quasar Queer, Quasar Near?" James lays out the latest in research into quasars, long among the most mysterious objects in the universe. Here's an excerpt, but the entire article is worth your time.

For over twenty years, a band of underdogs has been trying to say the question astronomers should be asking isn't the first one, but instead the second.  Chip Arp published the so-called Arp Catalog of peculiar nearby galaxies that seemed to have quasars improbably in their centers instead of at the edge of the visible universe.  His student Jack Sulentic in my adopted home of Alabama has been pushing for years his explanation of a spectacular example of galaxy NGC4319 that appears to be spitting out a quasar at the end of a tail of luminous gas.  Further examples of the night sky objects Chip Arp highlighted in his day have continued to be churned out by the husband and wife team of Geoffrey and Margaret Burbidge.  Their latest press release, worth checking out for the pictures of their new discovery, is reproduced below as the second part follow-on to this SciScoop story.

Just maybe the question to be asked about quasars is What incredible, previously undiscovered new property about light and spacetime are the contradictory characteristics of (some? all?) quasars trying to tell the dumb humans?  Ummm, the telltale visible sign of a starship warp field, perhaps?

Posted by Vanderleun at January 14, 2005 11:59 PM
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