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Quasars: Near Versus Far

By Tom Van Flandern, Reprinted from the Sept. 15 1992 issue of the Meta Research Bulletin, Vol. 1, #3

All observed characteristics of quasars are customarily interpreted using the standard Big Bang model and the assumption that their redshifts are primarily due to the expansion of the universe. These same characteristics can also be interpreted using alternative models in which quasar redshifts are not cosmological. In the table below, the quality of these two interpretations is compared. We see that, although both interpretations are possible, Occam's Razor cuts sharply in favor of the nearby quasar interpretation. The consequences of continuing to ignore this in journal articles, at meetings, in grant awards, in experiment and instrument design, in telescope allocation, in textbooks, and in the classroom, are to inhibit meaningful progress in the field on many fronts. This is true regardless of which hypothesis is more nearly correct, since ignoring useful, viable hypotheses or discordant data teaches unscientific behavior.

OBSERVATIONAL FACT INTERPRETATION IN STANDARD MODEL INTERPRETATION IN GENERIC MODEL
(1) Quasars have little or no visible angular extent. Only the center of the galaxy-like mass which produces the energy is visible. Quasars really have stellar dimensions, occasionally surrounded by nebulosity.
(2) Quasars have rapid light variations. Most quasar light comes from a small source of solar system dimensions, even in quasars as big as giant galaxies. Light variations are not unusual in high-mass stellar-sized objects.
(3) Even high-redshift quasars have long jets. Such jets must be the largest contiguous structures in the universe. Such jets result from ordinary mass ejections, and are unremarkable in size.
(4) Features in quasar jets are observed to move outward. Apparent faster-than-light motions must be relativistically beamed toward us. Small mass transfers are occurring at ordinary velocities.
(5) The angular size of visible nebulas surrounding some quasars does not diminish, and may even increase, with increasing redshift. An evolutionary effect, since early, distant, high-redshift quasars are more energetic. Higher mass quasars, which have higher redshifts, have larger associated nebulas.
(6) Some high-redshift quasars are relatively bright. Unknown energy mechanism produces equivalent of thousands of supernovas per year, enabling them to be bright at great distances. Not surprising, since redshift does not indicate distance, but perhaps mass. Some of these objects are nearby.
(7) Quasars do not exhibit the type of brightness-number relationship found for galaxies. The distribution is flat out to nearly redshift z = 2, then drops sharply. An evolutionary effect caused by quasars being primarily a feature of the early stages of the universe. No predictable relation between quasar numbers and space volume exists. Since redshift is not a distance indicator, no brightness-number relationship is expected. Objects with z > 2 have shorter lifetimes, e.g., because of their higher mass.
(8) Small redshift and large redshift quasars are found infrequently. Most quasars died out long ago. Quasars formed and died during a limited period of evolution of the universe. High redshift objects emit limited visible light. Low redshift objects are undistinguished and difficult to find.
(9) Discrete X-ray sources are found in our own galaxy and in some quasars and related objects. Most X-rays come from nearby or very far away, but generally not from intermediate distances. Only nearby sources can give off detectable X-rays. Most galaxies are too far away to see their X-rays sources.
(10) An X-ray flare from a quasar with z = 0.14 was observed to increase its brightness by 67% in just three minutes. These X-rays must be relativistically directed toward us in a narrow, short-lived beam. There is nothing unusual about such an X-ray flare in a high-mass star. No beaming is required.
(11) The calculated charged particle density is a function of inferred distance. Theoretical problem getting photons out from interior when density gets too high. No special problems arise.
(12) Some low redshift galaxies have associated quasars. Some of those appear to be connected to the galaxies. Statistical coincidence and optical illusions. Those galaxies are the parent of the associated quasars.
(13) Quasars, even at high redshifts, are frequently accompanied by faint galaxies at small separations. Statistical coincidence and gravitational lensing by galaxy clusters. High-redshift associations cannot be real. Association with parent galaxies plus gravitational lens effects, with foreground quasars lensing background galaxies.
(14) The magnitudes and angular separations of quasar-galaxy pairs are correlated with the galaxy redshift. An observational selection effect which will disappear when catalogs are more complete. This is the predicted quasar-parent galaxy relationship.
(15) Where distant clusters of galaxies are observed, quasars are generally not found in them. An evolutionary effect, not fully understood. Quasars of distant galaxies are too faint to be visible.
(16) Quasars with redshifts greater than 1.5 show no tendency toward galaxy-like clustering or voids. The significance of galaxy voids is still being studied. Clustering is an evolutionary effect, not yet strong during the main quasar era. Such quasars are nearby, and should therefore not display clustering. Redshift is not a distance indicator, so no voids should be evident.
(17) Quasars do show strong, large-scale clustering around nearby galaxy groups, such as the Virgo and Sculptor clusters and M87. Selection effect of concentrating searches in these regions. The nearby galaxies and clusters are parent bodies for those quasars.
(18) Absorption lines in the spectra of quasar light are quite narrow. Caused by intervening hydrogen clouds. Implied cloud temperatures (5,000-10,000 degrees) are below predicted 30,000 degrees. Lines are due to layers in the massive stellar object or its surrounding nebulosity, not intervening clouds. Cooler temperatures expected.
(19) The number of absorption line systems seen in Lyman alpha does not monotonically increase with redshift. Low-z quasars such as 3C 273 (z = 0.16) have as many absorption systems as high-z quasars. The hydrogen clouds doing the absorbing are not uniformly spread through space, and are more abundant at recent (therefore close) epochs. Lack of metal lines makes galaxy halos unlikely candidates as absorbers. The absorption systems are due to layering in the quasar and its surrounding nebulosity. No linear or monotonic relationship with redshift is expected.
(20) Quasar jets have variable polarization due to a magnetic field. The magnetic field is in invisible, young intervening galaxies, which must then have fields as strong as mature galaxies. The magnetic field is that of the local parent galaxy of the quasar. Local galaxies have fields of about the measured strength.
(21) So-called "iron quasars" contain extremely strong emission lines from ionized iron. These still defy any consensus explanation. Normal for stellar objects in a certain range of mass and temperature.

A careful examination of the middle column reveals that almost all of these observational features of quasars have explanations in the standard model. But it also reveals that most of these explanations were contrived after the properties were discovered, and are therefore ad hoc (ex post facto) helper hypotheses, serving the purpose of saving the feature of the standard model that quasar redshifts are distance indicators. The explanations do not flow naturally from the model until after the observations force a model amendment. By contrast, inspection of the last column reveals that most quasar properties become unremarkable if quasars are assumed to be nearby. Only a few arguments are ad hoc, and then perhaps only because of the lack of specificity of the generic model in this paper. That will be remedied with the publication of a new cosmology, the Meta Model, in early 1993.

 
 
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