When addressing the issue of the organization of galaxies as unified systems we quickly reach the limits of our basic understanding of physical science. A range of anomalous activity points to new domains of physics–new universal physical principles–currently outside our grasp. Central in all this is a mysterious singularity point in Einstein's general relativity–the supermassive black hole.
BENJAMIN DENISTON: All right, so welcome to the sixth LaRouche PAC Basement galaxy class series. Today, we're going to kind of take a leap from what we've done so far in this Series, for the most part. Last time we were looking at the relation of processes on Earth to our Galaxy, to the galactic system, focused on the issue of life and evolution, and saw that, to pursue that question, we had to go to some conception of the nature of our Galaxy as a whole, as a single system, single organized system. And, from the standpoint of Vernadsky, asked, what properties or characteristics of the Galaxy, as a unity, might be responsible, or associated with the relation between the evolution of life on Earth, and the relation of our Solar System to the Galaxy.
I think that's a good introduction to where we want to go now, because now we want to kind of just get right at the question of galactic systems as single entities, as wholes, their characteristics as single systems, their, as we'll get into towards the end, potential of their creation, their evolution, their development, try and understand what are the organizing principles of galaxies, as a general class of phenomena. And as we'll see, this really takes us right past the bounds of current physics, current mathematical physics, current physics. Our current understanding of the principles organizing the Universe doesn't yet allow us to understand, or doesn't explain these larger-scale structures, these larger-scale systems, which is kind of the theme of this whole Class Series. So there will be more on that, so.
But to get into that, we're going to return to our friend, our neighbor, Sagittarius A Star, this super-massive phenomenon at the very, very center of our Galaxy. A few classes ago, we looked at how, with some rather remarkable telescope systems we now have, we've been able to observe over the course of 10, 15 years, entire stars orbiting some one mysterious location at the very center of our Galaxy. And it's generally a reason where you see, looking in regions like the radio part of the spectrum, you see a lot of activity. But if we look in the same part of the spectrum, in which we can see these stars, you don't see anything there. It's just a blank empty spot. So the images that are used to see where these stars are, and see how these stars are changing positions, in the near infrared range, in particular, we can see these stars, see them moving. But when we see that point they seem to be moving around, there's just nothing there — as far as we can see, at least. Obviously there's something there, because entire stars are orbiting on the scales of decades, 15 years, 30 years.
So there's something very interesting going on in this central region of our Galaxy. And as we looked at, again, in a previous class, we've been able to get a decent sense of how long the orbits are, for a number of these stars orbiting this location, and how big their orbits are, or how long their periods are, and how big their orbits are, which, through the use of Kepler's so-called Third Law, allows us to get some idea of the mass of this phenomenon, at the very center of our region, of our Galaxy. And, according to these measurements, and the associated calculations, it's something about four million times the mass of our Sun. So something is exerting a gravitational effect, apparently, on these stars, which is the equivalent of four million times the mass of our own Sun.
And I thought this was an interesting comparison. You have this one star S 2, which we've seen make an entire orbit now, through these observations. It's got a semi-major axis of around 980 astronomical units, which is pretty big on solar system scale, but on a galactic scale it's pretty tiny. And if there were a body in the Solar System that would have that orbit, it would take 30,000 years to make one orbit, if it had that semi-major axis. But around this object, being 4 million times more massive than our Sun, it doesn't take 30,000 years, it takes only 15. So it's another sense of this super-massive phenomenon here at the center.
This is actually taken as pretty much the best evidence we have for a black hole existing in the Universe, and in particular, what people call super-massive black holes, because it's super-massive. It's really big, as opposed to stellar-mass black holes, a black hole about the size of a star, in terms of its mass. This is way outside the scale of one star forming a black hole, with 4 million solar mass. It's huge. It's still, to be very precise and technical, looking at how much of a clean ellipse the orbits make, they have reason to believe that it's not 4 million solar masses scattered over a large area. It appears to be concentrated in a pretty small area. But to 100% meet the definition of a black hole, as it's usually discussed, we haven't quite narrowed it down far enough. It's still a couple of orders of magnitude away. If we could prove that all that mass is within a slightly smaller region, which is right now just outside of our observational capabilities, it would be the first, supposedly conclusive evidence of a black hole existing.
This is pretty interesting, because first these things arrived, came just out of the mathematics, came out of Einstein's work, people looking at Einstein's work, his general theory of relativity, where he shows that space-time actually can be curved, can be shaped, and matter, the effect of mass on space-time, causes space-time to have a curvature, to change. This is famously demonstrated in Einstein's time when Eddington showed that starlight would be bent just slightly as it passed around the Sun, because of the Sun's gravitational effect, actually warping, changing the space-time around the Sun, so when the light passed through that curve space-time, it changed its direction just a little bit.
As the equations and the understanding of now how matter and space-time interact were being investigated more, some people started to look into extreme scenarios, and they said, well, if you had a certain point where you had a high enough amount of mass in a small enough of area, you'd get kind of a runaway effect where you'd get a singularity. You'd get a point where the gravitation runs off to infinity. The gravitational strength becomes infinitely strong. Space and time basically break down. They go off to infinity, and you have a singularity in the mathematics, a point where just following the mathematical equations, these things go off to infinity. And for a long time, it was just something in the mathematics, in the theories, and now we're starting to get some observational evidence that they're appears to be stuff showing similar characteristics existing in the Universe, although, what exactly they are, we don't really know.
I want to just kind of get a sense, so according to this classical view, if I was watching one of you falling into a black hole, you'd be approaching the point, they call the event horizon, the point where nothing can escape, not even light. As you get closer and closer, you're moving into a more warped space-time, because you're moving deeper and deeper into the gravitational field of this black hole. As you do that, time, as I would perceive your time, I would perceive it slowing down, and the closer you got to that event horizon point, the more I would see your clock, your intrinsic time, slowing down more and more and more, to the point where I'd actually never see you cross that event horizon and go into the black hole. Under just the mathematics, following the classical theory, you would just, to me, appear to slow down, stop, and then kind of fade away, because the light gets shifted. But if then you could look in longer wavelengths, you'd still see the person there, kind of frozen in time, and from the standpoint of the outside observer, an infinite amount of time could pass, and that person wouldn't pass in, pass through the event horizon.
Now we've never observed that, obviously, but that's when we say this singularity is in the equation, that's the kind of stuff you get, the metrics for time, space, just go off into infinity, and you start to get all kinds of weird stuff. People can read tons of material on speculating about what happens there, what happens when you cross the event horizon. Some people say you get fried. Some people say nothing happens. Some people would say it depends who you ask. It's all kinds of crazy stuff, but it's all total theorizing, trying to extrapolate the current understanding of the physics into this kind of singularity point, where it breaks down.
There's a lot of other interesting stuff too. There's stuff where here you start to get a potential interaction between quantum mechanics and gravity, stuff that I'm not totally familiar with. But it's interesting that's where you also start to get some physical phenomena where you actually have those two processes at play at the same time, in a way that might actually allow you to investigate how they relate, which is a big unknown question in physics today. So the point is, it's this anomalous domain, this anomalous region.
What I'll posit for the thesis for the discussion today, is that it's a singularity, it's where we get a breakdown in our current understanding. But we should look at it as a point where this is kind of a sign, a signal, that our current understanding has reached its limits, and there's some other higher levels of physic, higher principles acting, that subsume our current understandings, which we'd have to understand to then be able to understand what's happening in these processes, in these extreme situations. Just because you get an infinity of breakdown in the equations, doesn't mean that happens in reality. It means that there's some phase-shift going on there, reaching outside of our current understanding. We should be very excited about trying to figure out what the heck is really going on in this domain.
Instead of following the equations as far as we can follow them, today we're just going to look at what do we know about these things from observation. So we're going to start with the hypothesis that whatever is going on in our local neighborhood here, this super-massive object, whether it is exactly what current theory calls a black hole, or whether it's something else. It's some expression of this boundary condition where our current understanding fails, and we need a new fundamental discovery to understand higher levels of activity going on.
And we're going to look at how other galaxies, actually have very similar — here's a characteristic depiction, I'm sure people have seen a bunch of times about showing the curvature of space-time, as an effect of gravity, if you had an infinite gravity to get this infinite well in this space-time. Anyway, so we'll look at, kind of follow the track of these super-massive black holes at the centers of galaxies.
We have one, and as far as being able to measure it, it appears that most other galaxies have one also. These other galaxies, they'll have a bunch of stars. They'll have a bunch of gas and dust. They might have spiral arms, might have other things. Some of them have different structures. But it appears that for the most part, not necessarily in every single case, but it appears that for the most part, it looks like most other galaxies also have a super-massive object at the very, very center of them, similar to how we have one at the center of our Galaxy. Obviously we are the closest to ours, so we have the best view, the clearest, easiest ability to study it, but there's evidence that they appear to be existing in, pretty much, most every galaxy, at least, especially the developed, well-developed, large, other galaxies we see.
But there's something else interesting. There's a relation between this super-massive phenomenon at the center, this supposed super-massive black hole, and certain characteristics about the size of the host galaxy as a whole. This is often referred to as the M-Sigma relation - "M" standing for the mass of the super-massive black hole. Here's a million masses, ten million, a hundred million, a billion solar masses. These are different solar mass, amount of solar mass, to measure the mass of different black holes. Here's our Milky Way, about four million solar masses.
"Sigma" refers to a way of trying to estimate the mass of what's called the bold structure of a galaxy. Here's like a general depiction of what we think our galaxy is like. We have this disc structure, where the spiral arms are, kind of a larger halo around the whole thing. Then you have this characteristic bulge structure. And a lot of other galaxies have the similar feature of this bulge structure. In rough terms, an approximate measurement of the mass of this bulge structure can be made, and that's what this Sigma here represents. And if you point that out this way, we see that the relation between the mass of the super-massive black hole at the center, and the mass of this particular bulge structure in a galaxy, we see that they form this very interesting relationship, where the larger the bulge structure, the more massive the bulge structure, the more massive the super-massive black hole, or vice versa. It's generally about a thousand to one, so the bulge generally tends to be about a thousand times more massive, than the super-massive black hole, which is pretty interesting. It says there's some relationship there.
Some people might say, well, what's the big deal? It's part of one system. It makes sense that they would share some relationship. But it's an open anomaly how that relationship could be maintained, as galaxies grow and develop and evolve. Why would they maintain this particular relationship between the super-massive object and the bulge? New stars are being formed. Supposedly, the super-massive black hole's getting bigger. Why would they maintain this tight relationship? In my mind, it kind of brings to mind, if you think about something like an animal, it makes sense that as the animal grows, the heart has a certain proportion to the body as a whole, that is maintained, but that's because it's organized by one process. It's a single system, that's coherently organized as a unity.
That's not how people talk about galaxies today. They're assumed to be not organized by some single process, it's just the accumulation of a lot of lower-level interactions, that just happen to produce this overall structure, with no single unifying principle to the whole thing. So from that standpoint, from the reductionist framework, this is a huge anomaly. Why would you get this tight relationship between the super-massive black hole size and the bulge size? It would be like any continent you went to, the highest mountain on that continent is always exactly 1/100,000th the diameter of the continent, or something. In that type of process you wouldn't expect that relationship to exist, because there's nothing governing the development of a continent the same way an animal, or something, an organism.
Anyway, our friend, our super-massive phenomenon, is emerging here as a rather interesting relation to the certain global, or total characteristic of the system as a whole. It's important to remind ourselves of the scale too, the super-massive phenomenon. This is the stars orbiting Sagittarius A Star in the center of our Galaxy. Here's our Solar System for reference. You might need binoculars to see it. This red is a minor planetary body, you've probably never heard of, called Sedna. Neptune and Pluto are just almost dots, little circles in there. So this is very big relative to our Solar System. The size of the super-massive black hole, or the event horizon, under the standard calculations, is well within the orbit of Mercury, so a relatively small, very concentrated process, even though it's four million solar masses, assuming it has the characteristics of a black hole the way they are classically defined, it would fit within the orbit of Mercury very easily, significantly smaller, I think, actually.
And yet that's maintaining a relation with this bulge structure, which is a few billion times bigger. So if the size of the bulge was the size of our Earth, the size of the super-massive black hole would be significantly less than the size of a dime, for example. And then you're talking about something that's something like 15,000 light years, 20,000 light years across, so any interaction at the fastest possible speed would take tens of thousands of years. You have this tiny thing, super-massive, but still much smaller than the whole process, somehow maintaining a relation to the whole system.
This is just one of a series of things I'm going to go through, indicating higher level organizing principles, which we have not yet figured out, governing galactic systems as single entities, single unities, organized in a certain coherent way — this M-Sigma relationship.
Things get more interesting when we start to look out at other galaxies. These are two different galaxies, which look similar. These are both Hubble images. Do people notice any difference between these two images?
Q: Looks like they're spinning differently.
DENISTON: Yeah, maybe, yeah, OK. Actually I didn't catch that, but yeah, so people paid attention to the last class. That's good.
Q: And one seems to have more arms than the other one.
DENISTON: Any artifacts from the imaging?
Q: [inaud 24.04] flare [24.08]
DENISTON: Yeah, you got this kind of flaring, in this case, I think it's a saturation effect, that the sensors taking this image, it's so bright from the very center here, that it actually gets saturated and bleed over to some degree. I don't know exactly how the imaging works, but something to that effect. It's incredibly bright here, such that if you want to image the whole Galaxy, this just kind of shines it out and causes this disruptive effect to the imaging technique. I don't know exactly when this was first seen, or exactly what characteristics were first noticed, but this is one sign of a certain class of galaxy called active galaxies, or galaxies with active nuclei, active galactic nuclei.
So they're certain galaxies that have the spiral arms. They're looking nice, or they could be ellipticals. They don't have to be spirals. They could be other kinds of galaxies. But they have a very intense amount of activity going on in the very center. This is just one illustration of it. And it's not just brighter. Also, it shines in different parts of the spectrum, so maybe higher energy ranges. It's brighter. You get more activity than you would expect. Some of the light coming doesn't necessarily look like just a lot of starlight. It looks like it could come from other processes, like gas moving really fast, plasma moving really fast. So it's indicating that there's some other activity going on, very energetic, very active, at the very center of these galaxies. And this is thought to be maybe like 1% of the galaxies out there maybe have this active characteristic going on. They say just the very core of one of these active galaxies can be as bright as a thousand other galaxies. So you could have the energy, the luminosity, emitting from this very central region of just one galaxy can be the equivalent of a thousand other galaxies. So something very interesting is going on again in this very central region of some of these galaxies.
These have been investigated for a long time. A lot could be said, but one thing that's interesting to our discussion here, is that they've been able to narrow the emission region, the region where this immense amount of energy is coming from, to a very small volume, very small areas. The way they do that is by looking at how some of these actually have a fair amount of variation too. So, if you have an object that's changing in brightness, and say, for example, that object was two light-weeks across. Say you had some change in the center of it that propagates out, in a spherical pattern, and this whole structure, two light-weeks across, changes its brightness, or changes its activity. If the change reached all around the surface at the same time, because it's two light-weeks across, so it takes light two weeks just to traverse the length of this thing itself, we would see the beginning of that change two weeks before seeing the end of that change. So the total time it takes for us to observe the full change in brightness, the full variability of the region, is taken as an indication of how large, it provides kind of a limiting constraint on how large that changing region might be.
So in this case, obviously, these aren't to scale, if you had another object that is only two light-hours across, it would take much less time for the change from the far end, from our perspective, to catch up with the change from the front end, and that would enable us to see, over time, a much more rapid variation in the brightness or activity going on in that object. So this is generally taken as one way of getting a sense of maybe how large is the region going through a certain amount of variation or change.
One galaxy that they've studied, one active galaxy, this guy right here, very spectacular specimen there, one of the many many active galaxies out there, that people have looked at. They've clearly measured variations in the X-ray activity of the very central region in as short time as five hours, leading the people doing this research to believe that the region that's emitting these X-rays and, hypothetically, they believe the region that's causing all this general large amounts of activity, associated with these active galaxies, which can, again, be a thousand times as brighter than the rest of the galaxy as a whole, could be coming from regions as small as light-hours across, which puts that region down onto the scale of the size of our Solar System. Which then leads people to believe, well, then this large amount of energetic activity, high energy radiation, across much of the spectrum, this huge bright characteristics we see with these active galactic nuclei, maybe they're also associated with those super-massive objects, which we know in our own case, to be very small, very anomalous. Maybe those are the things responsible for this huge amount of energetic activity we see in these active galaxies.
Some active galaxies, this saved screen that I kind of gave away the punchline here, but here's a galaxy as you'd see it in the optical. So if you had really good vision, and you could stare at the same point in the sky for a really long time, and collect all the light, that's what you'd see. This is if you'd look at the same region in the radio. And there's again, a number of galaxies that emit these characteristics of these jets, and these lobe structures of plasma, which then emit in the radio part of the spectrum. So here you see an entire galaxy, Hercules-A, being dwarfed by its shooting out these huge structures of plasma. In some cases, I think it's either M-87 or M-81, with the Hubble telescope, they've actually been able to see this jet structure pulsate and move. We're living here on Earth, we're used to seeing things move and change. Even in the Solar System you see the planets moving around. But to look on galactic scales and see changes in structure on human lifetime, is, I think a rather interesting, a rather remarkable thing.
So again, you have, these are not all active galaxies emit, show these radio lobes and radio jets, but some do, and again, it's another indication of something really interesting going on here. Something happening at the center of this galaxy that's creating a huge amount of activity and structured organization. And again, the hypothesis is, it's something to do with this super-massive phenomenon at the center of that galaxy.
Q: So only do the active centers have these kinds of plasma shooting out of them?
DENISTON: I think so, yeah.
Q: Not all of them.
DENISTON: No, not all. I know that not all active galaxies necessarily have this radio, these radio jets or lobes. I would think, I'm just not totally sure if only them. But then that might not be the case, but yeah, definitely, it's generally something we usually associate with active galaxies. There could be cases where maybe, they think these galaxies become active, and then non-active, get all energetic, and then take a breather and shut down for a little while maybe. So you might see like remnants of structures from when it was active. That might be the case. It might be other things. Actually there's evidence our own Galaxy might have been active in the not too-distant past, on geological time-scales, of these. I don't have the image of it, but I think it was the Fermi telescope found these bubbles. People have seen these artist depictions, these images of the Milky Way Galaxy, kind of looking sideways, and these big lobes, big bubble structures, may have been able to see gamma rays and high energy X-rays coming from these particular lobe structures, kind of above and below our Galaxy, which some people think might be evidence, so it would be like a big bubble like this, another one right on top. A coherent area where you get a bunch of high energy X-rays and gamma rays coming from just these lobe structures. Some people think that maybe that was evidence that our Galaxy was active not that long ago, maybe now it's calmed down a little bit, and resting, or whatever.
This is an array of types of activity you get from some of these active galaxies. And again, the point is, it's not just a lot of starlight. It's not just a lot of the light or energy you tend to see coming from other parts of the galaxy, but there's something else very interesting going on there, sometimes shooting out these giant lobe structures. And again, to go back to our analogy, so if this were the size of our Galaxy here, as we normally visualize it and see it, it would be like that big. Don't want cross-comparisons too much, but if this were the size of the Earth here, the Sagittarius A Star again would be like the size of a dime. If this was going on, people think there might be a lot of other activity going on around it, so it would maybe be like the size of a dime surrounded by a soccer ball, or something. I don't know. I didn't do the exact calculations. But then they think that that thing, if this is the Earth, something the size of a soccer ball, or something, generating these structures, each of which, larger than the Earth itself, dwarf the galaxy itself, and then just the fact that you get this coherent structure maintained over these distances is amazing. So there's something wild and interesting going on in this region of a number of galaxies, and the growing evidence indicates that it looks like it's probably associated with that thing that we find in our Galaxy, which doesn't look to be active right now, but it represents a point where our understanding of physics breaks down. It's a singularity in our understanding of science. And that's a thing that we see to be hypothesized to be associated with all kinds of super-energetic activity in other galaxies, and maybe in our own Galaxy in the not too-distant past. So that's pretty interesting, I think.
The standard idea is that you have this super-massive black hole. It's just pulling stuff in. If there's stuff nearby, it's pulling it in. It forms this kind of accretion disk around it. You get a lot of stuff kind of spiraling in slowly. It's got to spiral a lot to lose the energy to be able to fall in. And then as it's obviously if it crosses the event horizon, it would never escape, because that's why you call it the black hole. Then things get weird, we actually never see it cross the event horizon, anyways, because we're watching from the outside. The internal clock for activity there would slow down to zero anyways. But the idea that's put out there is that this region outside of the black hole just gets super active, super energetic. It starts to emit a lot of radiation. It gets really hot. Somehow out of this process, you get these jets that shoot tens of billions of times larger than the structure itself, just out of this spiraling accretion disk process. And this, they admit, is total hand waving, that do certain models, theories, simulations, but nobody is convinced they have any legitimate solid explanation for how you get jet lobe structures like that coming out of this tiny spinning region. But you know, people are looking at it and investigating it.
Then it kind of more hot active region is supposedly surrounded by another kind of doughnut cloud of a little bit cooler gas. It's also kind of orbiting, and hasn't quite moved in as much yet, but it's a little bit further out. And all of that's going on at the very center of one of these active galaxies. So the theory is that if there was a bunch of dust and plasma and stuff at the very center of our Galaxy, it would swirl around and start to do all this type of stuff in our Galaxy, and make our Galaxy active. That's the standard theory. That's the general idea, general explanation for why we observe these active galactic nuclei.
Again, like we were saying, some of these things have these radio jets. Some don't. Some show more in the X-ray. Some don't. Some show more in the blue and ultra-violet, some not quite as much. Some give different kinds of emission characteristics. So there's actually a little bit of a variety of spectrum of these active nuclei, these active galaxies. And we're very far from understanding how that happens at all, let alone, why you'd get different types of activity. So what's been put forward for a few decades is what's the unified theory of active galactic nuclei, which is that it's all the same process. It's just stuff spiraling in a super intense gravitational field and just blasting out all kinds of activity. And the only reason we perceive them being different, is because we're looking at them from different angles. So maybe we're looking at one galaxy where the super-massive black hole and the accretion disk, we're looking at it straight on, so we see certain types of emissions.
Maybe we're looking at another galaxy, a different galaxy, that has the same active process, but instead of it being oriented to us, so we're looking at it head on, we're looking at it from the side, so it looks a little bit different from us. Some of the really hot high energy, hot activity, might be blocked by this cloud here, so you might see certain emissions in this view that you wouldn't see in that view. So that's been the standard theory pursued to say, well, we pretty much know what's going on. We don't know how the jets happen, but it's something like that, spiraling, and just shoots out stuff for tens of billions of times its own size. And this accretion disk process can more or less explain — that's been the going theory to try and explain what's going on with these things.
But then just last year, less than a year ago now, this whole series of images is from a info-graphic that JPL made. So again, step one step back. [laughter] So from our perspective, we some oriented like this. We see some oriented like that. If we were to just to look randomly, just systematically over the sky, we would expect just a homogeneous distribution of some oriented directly at us, some oriented sideways, some maybe a little more tilted. If the cause for the variety of activity of these fascinating, interesting, active galaxies was simply how the nucleus is oriented relative to us, which is like the basic thesis of the unified theory for what's causing the activity we see in these active galaxies. We wouldn't expect to see any structure. It would be randomly distributed.
We had this WISE telescope (the wide-field, infrared, survey, explorer), so it was looking in the infrared, looking at a whole bunch of stuff. Some of these numbers, I think, are just kind of mind-boggling. So it looked at hundreds of thousands, probably millions of objects. Within all those, they found a bunch of active galaxies, so they had a data set of 170,000 active galaxies, so this is not something you can do by hand anymore. And they found that, unlike what you would expect from just the standard unified theory model, they actually found clustering or clumping of certain types of active galaxies. So the types of active galaxies, which we had been explained by this activity - oh, the reason it looks like that, is just because we're looking at it edgewise. It's really the same as what's going on here. We're just looking at it a little bit differently.
So for these types, they found that, well, when we take a really big survey of the whole sky and look for them, we find that they tend to cluster together, which is a big problem for the unified theory, because either all of those galaxies are conspiring to orient their super-massive black holes with respect to us, even though we don't hold any special position in the Universe, with respect to those galaxies, or the whole idea that we've got a pretty simple basic explanation for how all this super-energetic activity occurs at the center of these galaxies is just not actually true. Certainly it seems like there's some accretion disk process. There's something like that going on, but with this study, it was recognized that people are being a little too simplistic, with their attempt to try and explain these active galaxies, these active galactic nuclei.
Q: When was this done?
DENISTON: It was May, 2014, so almost two years ago, less than two years ago. So it was pretty recent, at least that's when the release was, so around that time, and this satellite has been re-commissioned to help find killer asteroids. So it's still doing some good work. It's now called NEO-WISE, for near-Earth object.
So again, now we have not just a super-gravitational effect, associated with this singularity point, but also, super-energetic activity, very active, very energetic activity, coming out of these very central regions, again, very small regions in the very centers of these galaxies, and in some cases producing just incredible amounts of structure, coherent structure. Some of it, like the jets, is just admitted to be not really known, at all. People are theorizing and working on it. Other things they thought they had known, we're now realizing them being a little simplistic and we're not really sure what's going on, and why you would get a whole series of galaxies as a kind of cluster, as a group of them, acting in the same type of activity, I think is really interesting, as opposed to just kind of being random galaxy to galaxy. Now you have something indicating there's something about the inter-actions or activity among galaxies, associated with how active the characteristics of their activity.
Here's another active galaxy. Here's the galaxy in optical here. In radio, again you see these jets, these lobes. And then in X-ray, you have this other huge structure going on around it. So, those are these active galaxies.
Now we can take another step and look at another phenomenon, again we'll see to be associated with our singularity point, so to speak, which are called quasars, quasar being a funny term, coming from the original name which was quasi-stellar radio object, a radio source, or just quasi-stellar object. What do people see in this image here?
Q: Whoa, it looks like a mirror [crosstalk 50.27] colliding galaxies [inaud 50.33]
DENISTON: Uh huh, OK. [crosstalk 50.37] That's interesting. But there's definitely some galaxies here. Maybe some other galaxies down here. What do these look like?
Q: Street lights for your telescope. [laughter]
DENISTON: They kept asking, can you turn those off, when we're observing. We spent $300 million on this observatory, and you can't turn the stReet lights off.
Q: [inaud 51.06]
DENISTON: Yeah, we're looking through our own Galaxy. Some of these places, like in Hawaii, they have all the street lights are red, so they don't interfere with some of these great telescopes as much.
Q: San Jose, too.
DENISTON: Oh, yeah, OK.
Q: They only use those Mercury lights, those arm lights. They got a real narrow wave light they can filter out.
DENISTON: They don't turn them off, at least they help out a little bit. Yeah, so if we're looking through our own Galaxy to look at other galaxies.
Q: Sodium, I meant, sorry.
DENISTON: Sometimes you get a star that's in the way, and it's just stuck there in your image. This is a regular thing. You see it a lot. It turns out though, that not both of those are stars. This one's a star. This one's a quasar, or a quasi-stellar object. It looks like a star. So that's where the name obviously comes from. It's only when you look at potentially different parts of the spectrum, maybe X-ray, maybe radio, you might see this thing, all of a sudden, is way brighter, than you'd realize, or than you'd expect just from a star.
Or, as we'll get into, if you look at its redshift, its redshift is super-high, very, very high, indicating that it's a star and moving at an insanely ridiculous speed, which we would never possibly expect to ever happen. Or it's something that's incredibly far away. And this gets into the — I don't want to spend too much time on this — but this gets into the whole big bang cosmology idea, that redshift, the amount that the spectral, the fingerprints of different elements in a light being emitted from different objects, specifically from different galaxies, is usually generally taken as an indication of how far away they are. That's the general big bang idea. And the idea is that all of space is expanding, so the further away two objects are to start, the more space there is in between them to expand, so the greater amount of what might look like velocity or speed you would see.
The easy analogy people often bring up is, if you had a balloon, imagine drawing like a three by three square grid on a balloon. As you blow up the balloon, the whole surface of the balloon stretches and expands, say you could blow it up continuously, to get nice continuous breath, and you get a nice continuous expansion of the surface of the balloon. The location of two nearby points would be moving away at a certain rate. They'd be separating at a certain rate. If you had two points that were further away, the rate of their expansion would be more, because there's more surface of the balloon to expand in between those two points. So that's for a surface. Then, imagine you could think about space like that, somehow. That's a funny thing to think about. But that's the general big bang idea, that space itself is expanding, so the further away an object is, the greater amount of redshift you would expect, because there is more space expanding in between you and that object. This goes back to Hubble, in the 20s, when he first saw evidence of this.
I'm not going to get into that. If I had five more minutes, I think we could cover the creation and fate and origin of the entire Universe, but [laughs] I think that's a quite a big topic, and I think modern cosmology is pretty arrogant to treat some of these questions so simply and banally, but something I don't even try and get into. But that's the general idea in the whole big bang framework, further away, a greater redshift.
So this is just a star, just our neighbor hanging out, not far away at all. You get all these other galaxies, they look faint, pretty faint, certainly less bright than the star. The reason we can see these now, is because you can point a telescope and just have it stare at the same spot for hours. You can't do that with your eyes. You can, but you don't get like an accumulation of [laughter] you can stand there. Don't go try it. You don't get an accumulation of photons, and you can't build them up the same way that a telescope can. An image I wish I had, but the Andromeda Galaxy, our big nearby neighbor, it's bigger than the moon on the sky. It's big, but you can't see it, not because it's small, because it's so dim. So if you want to see it, you got to have a telescope and point it there, and then have the telescope rotate with the Earth, to make sure you don't get a blurred image, and just have it collect a lot of light for a long time. Then you can get these nice images.
So these other galaxies, these faint little objects, fainter than this single star, this might be a trillion stars in this galaxy, or hundreds of billions of stars. This quasar, according to its redshift, is actually much farther than any of these other fainter galaxies, by the standard cosmology view, big bang idea. It's got a huge redshift. And because nothing, we could possibly think of, could actually explain accelerating something to that speed. The only way it could get a redshift like that, within the current framework, is through expansion of space, and therefore, it must be very, very, very, very far away.
So this is pretty interesting. It raises a new challenge. This thing looks as bright as a nearby star — much brighter than these other galaxies, but it's much farther away. So the idea, generally, is that quasars are thought to be really young, really active, vigorous, active galactic nuclei, to be able to be that bright so far. And then, they have similar spectral characteristics too. They look like an active galaxy, the type of light they emit, the characteristics of the light they emit, looks very similar. So again, it looks like again, this, we're kind of going through a class of related phenomena, they look like, according to the redshift, incredibly distant active galactic nuclei. But we tend to only see them as point sources as light, I think. With more modern techniques, some of these they've been able to see kind of little fuzzy galaxy characteristics around them, but for the most part, you just see the very central core shining incredibly brightly, signifying these quasars.
So, super-massive phenomenon singularity associated with super-energetic activity with these active galaxies, and we see it expressed in this quasar phenomenon. Now these quasars take us to another step, and it's where we'll kind of end off tonight, of, into the unknown, frontier areas, which is some other anomalous cause for this redshift effect. So again, as a huge redshift the standard explanation, therefore it must be incredibly far away.
Well, certain astronomers, really pioneered by a guy named Halton Arp, accumulated a huge amount of observational evidence, showing that a lot of these things are really not as far away as we think. They can't be. This is one, it's been a number of classes going through all the discussions on this, but here are two galaxies, which have been imaged and showing that there's a filament connecting the two of them. They clearly look like they are interacting, some bridge connecting them. This is other, just processing of the image to kind of get it to stand out a little bit more. They don't actually look like that, if you looked at them, but to kind of highlight this bridge structure. The problem is that the redshift of the smaller one is twice the value as the larger one, meaning it should be significantly farther away. In these cases they measure redshift with this Z value, and I think, there might be another complicating factor, but I think generally, if you multiply this Z value by the speed of light, you get the velocity, which is associated with that amount of redshift. So anyway, that's why the Z is there.
So this one should be significantly farther away than this one, and they shouldn't be in the same area, and yet we're seeing them interacting. This is the kind of stuff Arp was looking at, saying, look, this idea of redshift distance doesn't hold. There must be something else going on causing this redshift activity, this spectral shift of this entire galactic system. So something else causing this entire galactic system as a unity to emit at a lower frequency, shifting the spectral lines of the emissions into the red. People looked at this more closely, and they said, well, it's not just two galaxies, which shouldn't be interacting, which are, but there's two quasars in that path connecting them, directly in this line, and these have even much higher redshifts. Again, these quasars come up more as like point sources, these small little sources. So this is just one example, and if this was the only evidence out there, people would obviously say, well, they just happened to look like they line up. This one's really closer, and it's got this tail coming out for no reason, but it's just there, and just happens to look like it's lining up with that one, but they're really separated by a huge amount of space. And those quasars are even farther away. They just happen to line up there.
But that's not the only piece of evidence. The guy's written, at least, well over a hundred papers, on this subject. He was actually considered, he passed away recently, observationally, he was considered to be one of the top up-and-coming astronomers in the '40s, '50s, maybe into the '60s. He actually worked for Hubble, Edwin Hubble, at a certain point. He got a bunch of awards and stuff. So he wasn't just some guy who, in a couple of hours in his spare time, spent a little bit of time dabbling into astronomy, and claimed he found this totally anomalous thing. This is was his career. He was seen as a top up-and-coming astronomer very early on.
I don't know exactly when it started, but I think, into the '60s, definitely into the '70s, very actively, then more actively into the '80s and '90s, he started pointing out the fact that you get this anomalous redshift phenomenon. There's something else going on, and we just don't understand. And not only that galaxies have different redshifts caused by some process we don't know yet, and quasars have the most extreme form of this. They have the highest, they have these super high redshifts, but you see them sometimes interacting with sometimes associated with much, much closer objects, indicating they're much closer, indicating their or intrinsic or anomalous redshift effect is the biggest, is the highest amount. He developed the whole framework and evidence, showing that it looks like galaxies, and, in particular, active galaxies. This is an active galaxy, so it's one of these active ones we've been looking at, look like they're actually ejecting or emitting these quasars, with this very, very high redshift. You can't obviously watch the whole process unfold, but he presents a serious argument, looking at different cases, that it looks like these might be the process of the evolution and development of new galaxies. You have some kind of continuous creation process going on.
This is just one other example. Here's another active galaxy. This is imaged in high-energy X-rays, so you don't get nice high resolution. This isn't just a coffee stain on his paper. [laughter] This is the result of a very expensive space mission. So you have a galaxy here, an active galaxy, and then paired directly across it, you have two quasars, which both have very similar redshifts. And he finds tons of these cases, and he spends a lot of time just doing the statistics. How many quasars of a certain brightness do you see all over the sky. How many of these active galaxies do you see. How often would you expect to see them close to each other, within a certain distance, especially lining up directly across, when they have almost the same redshift value.
And again, if it were just one case, it would be like, well, it's probably just an accident, but again, dozens and dozens and dozens of papers, different cases. He's got a lot of other arguments too, showing that it definitely looks like these active galaxies, in particular. These super-energetic active nuclei in some of these galaxies look to be actually emitting what could very well be proto-galaxies, or kind of baby galaxies, forming, and they have this anomalous very high redshift. And there's a bunch of stuff. The redshift he shows is a quanti. You tend to get particular discrete values. That's another kind of fascinating complication to the whole thing. And for some reason, this whole proto-galaxy system, this quasar, as a whole, the light's coming from potentially a bunch of different stuff, but it has one global redshift, governed by some reason, some characteristic, which we don't yet know. And he develops a framework, a theory, for trying to explain some of this, some aspects of it. And personally, I think he's gone off in the wrong track on some of his attempt to explain why this might be happening. But I don't think he ever was running around saying he had the complete answer.
He was mostly interested in saying, well, let's take a serious investigation of this totally anomalous phenomenon. Obviously, I should mention, some people might know him, some people not, he was driven out of astronomy. Once he started publishing this stuff, they wouldn't let him have access to the telescope anymore. Because you got to like petition to get time to use these telescopes. So he was basically cut off, credibly difficult time publishing, attacked, whatever, whatever. If he didn't have his initial stature, he probably couldn't have done a tenth of what he did. But because he was already established as a prominent — I mean this galaxy is named after him, because of the work he did earlier. He did a whole atlas of peculiar, strange, irregular-looking galaxies. It's called the Arp Atlas of Galaxies, as if the galaxy is named after his work.
So anyway, some of his explanation, where he went with some of his explanations, I think gets a little problematic. I think he went the wrong way on a few things. But that's a whole other thing to get into. What's most interesting is again, something completely anomalous going on. Here's some depiction of his general scheme of how he thinks these things are ejected, kind of perpendicular to the disc, as they kind of move away, the redshift goes down as the galaxy begins to evolve into a more structured organized developed galactic system, like our own, or something.
And this also provides and interesting framework to study galaxy groups. You tend to get a lot of galaxies existing in groups, like we're part of the local group, because it's local, it's nearby. We talked about that before. We have the Andromeda Galaxy, M-33, the Magellanic Clouds, a bunch of other small irregular ones, and they're kind of relative to everything else around us. We're all kind of nearby. Then you have to go out a good chunk further, and then you start to see other groups, and a lot of time, these groups are kind of centered around one, or a few larger, organized spiral, or elliptical galaxies, and then kind of a few more less organized, less coherent organized structured, more irregular galaxies.
So anyway, it's a very serious, the evidence is worth, should be considered and investigated, and kept as an active working hypothesis, as to a continual process of creation, development, evolution of galactic systems. And again, this goes against the whole big bang framework, which just says, you had some singularity point. It exploded. Everything started expanding away from there. Galaxies started forming out of that process, but the whole thing's just kind of winding down. You had some miracle instant of creation, and everything is just flowing down from there. All the structure you see, all the organization, all the complexity, is just kind of the some [inaud 1.12.08] type of the froth at the bottom of the waterfall, and it's all kind of winding down. You get some kind of some activity, some structure in the winding down process, but everything's heading towards just kind of a homogeneous heat death after some single mysterious point of creative activity, which, can't talk about that, don't know what that was, but after that, everything is just kind of a winding down from there.
Q: [inaud 1.12.36] creation.
DENISTON: That's right, yeah. They just put God into one infinitesimal point, and then let him act once, and then, sitting on the beach ever since, or something. [laughter] He provides, this fits with a much healthier scientific framework of a anti-entropic developing Universe. What we see around us is not just a winding down, but a winding up, a movement towards more complex, more active, higher states of organization. The evidence he points to, of galaxies creating other galaxies in a continual creation process, provides a very important perspective on this whole investigation. The point is, these are all kind of connected as part of one, I would say, it's a new platform, a new level of science, of physics, that we have just not yet figured out. This is all this singularity phenomenon. This is all associated with something that is, to our current understanding, where our understanding of physics breaks down. And instead of speculating, by trying to push the mathematics as far as you can go, about what happens when you cross the event horizon, or don't cross the event horizon, or whether you can explain it with string theory, or a holographic universe, or. I'm not making those things up. That's where this investigation, these black holes, literally goes now.
DENISTON: Yeah, with a multiverse, yeah. Instead of going down that road, let's look at what these things are actually doing. We see the evidence for this super-massive activity. We see some of the most energetic and active things we know of, in the entire Universe, and energetic and active in ways which we don't yet really fully understand. My analogy I'd throw out, if you tried to understand the Sun 200 years ago, you could never possibly understand the Sun, because the Sun's powered by fusion. 200 years ago, we had no idea about how you could actually combine nuclei. Nuclei could actually merge or fragment or change, and you get a huge release of energy. That just didn't exist to us. We didn't know about it. So the existence of the Sun, from the standpoint of 1800 science, it was impossible to understand.
And I would posit that we should not be so arrogant as to assume we're not in the same position now, with respect to these active galactic nuclei. We see this super-massive activity. We see the energetic activity. We see the anomalies in trying to explain it with our current framework. And then you have the whole thesis presented by Arp, which adds a whole other angle on it. These things appear to be, these active nuclei processes appear to be associated with the birth, generation, development of entire new galactic systems, organized by some level of physics, causing this intrinsic redshift, which we don't understand, we can't explain currently.
And just as nuclear processes, the understanding of the Universe, associated with the nucleus, provided mankind with entire new platform of existence in the Universe. We should think about, that was the new Promethean fire, new Promethean leap for mankind, a century ago, we should look at this investigation as the same thing. This is not just figuring out some way to describe things that are going on way out there, but this is also the process by which we can continue the process of changing how mankind interacts with the Universe, by understanding what's beyond this - what subsumes a current level of physics, what's beyond this singularity point, so to speak - what's that level of organization, and how can we use that to improve our condition, our existence in the Universe.
So, here's Prometheus holding an active galactic nucleus, in particular the Galaxy named Hercules. So we can free Prometheus, free mankind, by going to the galactic level. So that's what I have for tonight. [pause] I'm glad it's so clear and easy to understand. [laughter] I don't have any questions either. I got it all figured out. [laughter]
Q: Does Halton Arp have any other hypotheses about other relationships that galaxies have to each other, beyond just our local group, but how different groups are related to other groups that's been [inaud 1.18.52] there?
DENISTON: That's a good question. I'm not totally sure.
Q: Well, I mean, it just doesn't have to be our, but.
DENISTON: Yeah. I mean, to be honest, there's a lot more out there, I just haven't even looked at. You have the groups. The groups tend to be associated in clusters, so a group maybe will have like a few dozen galaxies in a group. Clusters are like made up of a bunch of groups, and you're starting to get into hundreds and thousands, or many, many galaxies. Some of these clusters appear to be organized, and you have larger galaxies at the very center of those clusters.
So I think, in general, I mean he took the idea that you have this kind of generation after generation, creation and evolution, development of galaxies, and then they create new ones. At a certain point, it's certainly very speculative about how far can you go without actually being able to really prove any of this stuff. But anyway, that's the path he was looking down.
Q: Not all active galactic nuclei have this quasar trait?
DENISTON: That's a good question. Yeah. I'm not sure how exactly how often you see them with an active galactic nucleus. What I know is what Arp showed in a lot of, especially his earlier work, this book, which is the accumulation of case after case of finding these associations, which were to the point which was just way beyond statistical likelihood of finding this many accidental correspondences. Whether or not, every single active galaxy has quasars nearby, that have been ejected in, I would say, the recent period, I don't know. Yeah, that's a good question.
Q: Or the other way around, whether you can find an old active nucleus from quasars, for example.
DENISTON: Right. And he's done that. In some of his papers, somebody finds a new very active galaxy, and he says, when I then heard about that, so I looked at it, and I found quasars nearby, and I'm writing this paper. Or the other way, finds quasars nearby, because maybe if somebody finds some new quasars, really bright, really active, and then so he looks and he finds, well there's this active galaxy just right nearby. So just from reading some of his papers, that's the genesis of some of his work. He said, that's kind of like, it was really him, and he had a few collaborators, but a lot of people were against him, so he was constantly going up against a lot of opposition. So cases like that, he would say, this is kind of like a test of my hypothesis. You came up, you found this new active galaxy, so I looked and oh, now we find these two quasars paired right across the spin axis with very similar redshift, and that should be taken as a positive test proof of the thesis I've been presenting, because I've been presenting a thesis for years, this is a new case, I've looked into it. But in terms of just in absolute terms, that's a good question.
And there's always new surveys too. That's the other thing, they're constantly getting larger and larger surveys. He passed away two years ago now, I think, maybe a year ago, and I know some people have followed his work. A lot of people have talked about it. I don't know how many people are active and still pursuing it. There probably are people. I don't know. He openly said that he would collaborate with students, but he would encourage them not to say anything about this work, because he said they would just lose their job, lose their career, like happened to people he worked with, younger people. I don't know, some of those are people following it that aren't as active in speaking about it, or the way they write some of these academic papers these days, you don't know what they think. It's just so dry, descriptive, and [laughs] some of these things you have to know what the actual hypothesis is, and actually understand what's being said.
I think this is stuff that should be looked at more in depth with some of the more recent surveys. These data bases are massive, just the number of. They have these automated telescopes that now look and find objects, and get their color, what they look like, what type of galaxy, they're trying to do some of that stuff. We have a very large growing set of data to work with to look at these things. I think more could be done. I think some of the stuff is not outside of our capability. I mean some of this is not all that difficult to do. It was difficult building the billion dollar telescope, putting it on a rocket, shooting it up, and getting it in there, processing all the data. All that's available now.
And there's other exciting stuff coming too, I had meant to mention earlier. Early 2017, we are hopefully going to get the first images from the event horizon Telescope, which is taking radio-telescopes that already exist — I have it right here — in Antarctica, Chile, Hawaii, Spain, Mexico, and Arizona. All of those have radio dishes, already active for astronomy. And then they get them all to work together as one dish, which is pretty amazing. And they're working on how to do that, how to get all that functioning properly. But it's expected by early 2017, this array that basically makes one radio dish the size of the Earth, think about where all of those places are, which will be the biggest telescope we've had so far.
I know Lyn was campaigning for one the size of Mars' orbit in the 1980s. Because they didn't go with the SDI, we don't have that, so we'll have to settle with this for now. But, that is going to give, theoretically, the resolution to be able to image the, so-called, event horizon around Sagittarius A Star. People have theories of what they think it should look like, and we're hopefully going to get an image of it. So that could be some exciting stuff to look forward to, what that will show us, who knows, they've certain ideas about how they think. Here you're just talking about this wild domain, where they think this place is just above the event horizon, where light can pretty much orbit, the way a planet orbits around the Sun, so you get like an effect of light coming almost all the way around. Other, it gets wildly complicated with, you have such an extreme space-time curvature, and spinning activity, and other things. There's a lot of modeling going on to figure out what they think it might look like, so this is being presented as a new area to test general relativity, Einstein's theories, and what the hell's going on down there.
Q: I was wondering if those stars get close enough to be able to watch. First off, I don't know if at that distance and with the resolution, will be able to see them flickering, or having sunspots, and therefore you can see their brightness change, just something where you could actually see the time that the star is experiencing change, that's near the center there. I don't know if we're able to see well enough to look for that kind of thing yet.
DENISTON: Yeah, that's a good question, yeah.
Q: What if the Sun, that star perceives a much shorter time? Would have to be much shorter, right?
DENISTON: From us looking at it, it would look like it was slowing down.
Q: Right. So the star would perceive much shorter [inaud 1.28.18]
DENISTON: Yeah. I think even this, how close these guys are getting, I think is still really far to the point where the effect on time, as we perceive it, is probably infinitesimal still. I think you have to get pretty close so you start to get those effects showing strongly. Yeah, we could probably calculate that, and see how much it should be for these values. The imaging is pretty rough. We're looking all the way to the center of our Galaxy, some 25,000 light-years, through a bunch of dust, and clouds of dust, and plasma, and stuff, so we have to look at a certain range in the infrared. Then we're looking through our own atmosphere, which has all kinds of distortions. You have this bath of optics. Yeah, I mean it's just weird stuff to even think about, not being able to, these guys write entire books on like, Bill sees Jim going to the event horizon. Jim goes through it. What does Bill see? What does Jim see? It's just wild stuff, all trying to figure out what the heck would happen in such a.
It comes from your literally coming to an infinity point, where time goes off to infinity. Space breaks down. From the standpoint of somebody going through the event horizon, heading towards the black hole, if you're looking out at the rest of the Universe, it's inverted. The Universe sees time for you slowing down. You see everything else speeding up. So by just the standard classical interpretation, you'd see infinite time, the whole Universe age into forever, as you move closer moving across the event horizon.
Again, that's just taking the mathematics of the fact that you get a singularity in an infinity point in the Einstein field equations, looking at how matter and mass interacts with space-time. Whether that actually happens, or you get some phase-shift at an earlier point, and some other processes take over. I mean that's the question, I think should be put on the table, and thought about more seriously. Here we're playing around with some examples. I don't know if it's the best analogy, but you had Riemann dealing with the question of singularities arising, and looking at the propagation of sound waves. And some people saying, well, by these equations, you could never go past the speed of sound, because the equation showed an infinity building up. You get this wall of sound, and the closer you get, the more rapid you get the build-up of more sound, so you will run into an infinity, and if you're only following the numbers, and not using your mind, then infinity is an infinite wall, you can't get past. Riemann, well before jets and supersonic flight, and all that stuff, had to some degree, worked out what it would mean to move beyond it. And then, there's all kinds of interesting stuff about going beyond the sound barrier, certain changes in the way the planes behave, kind of in the new phase-space of activity, past that singularity point. This is certainly a much more fundamental example we're talking about, not just the speed of sound propagating in a medium, but we're talking about the very metrics of how space, time and matter behave.
I think the Arp work adds a whole different angle on it though, because we all say, well, these things, whatever the heck they are, these super-massive, it's not just mass, it's super-energetic, it's active, it's creating things, creating structure, potentially the process that's associated with the creation of entire new galaxies, governed by global characteristics that we can't even explain yet. So I think if you take that angle, this observational approach, consistent with understanding of an anti-entropic Universe, that gives you a different perspective to hypothesize about these things, as opposed to just being a mathematician about it, and following the equations down the rabbit hole forever. [pause]
So, should we call it a night? All right, I think we'll have one more class to round off this series. Then we can get to the real work.