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Arp's Anomalies

by  Bert Thompson, Ph.D.
Brad Harrub, Ph.D.

Book: Seeing Red Halton Arp
Halton C. Arp
Book: Quasars, Redshifts, and Controversies

Halton Arp is an astrophysicist at the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics in Munich, Germany. He has been referred to by some of his colleagues as “the most feared astronomer on Earth” (see Kaufmann, 1981). Renowned physicist John Gribbin once wrote that “for 20 years or so” Arp has been “a thorn in the side of establishment astronomy” (1987, p. 65). Depictions such as these generally are not seen in scientific literature. What, pray tell, has Dr. Arp done to deserve such designations?

For more than three decades, Arp has compiled—through extensive observational astronomy using some of the world’s finest telescopes—a sizable database of “peculiar” galaxies and redshift “anomalies.” These peculiarities and anomalies hardly are insignificant or few in number. Quite the opposite—Dr. Arp has produced an entire “Atlas of Peculiar Galaxies” (currently administered by the California Institute of Technology—see Arp, 1966). The images that he has produced, and the implications stemming from them, have struck at the very heart of current cosmological theory.

By way of summary, Arp has discovered entities (e.g., galaxies) that exhibit one redshift value (designated as “z” in the scientific literature) that are physically associated with other entities (e.g., quasars) with entirely different redshift values. As Gribbin wryly noted: “If a galaxy and a quasar are physically connected, but have different redshifts, something definitely is wrong.... Arp has enough evidence that he ought to be worrying more people than actually acknowledge the significance of his findings” (p. 65, emp. added).

In a personal e-mail to us on April 17, 2003, Dr. Arp referred us to what he called “the latest, very powerful evidence found in the active galaxy NGC 7603 (Arp Atlas No. 92). The high-redshift companion is attached to the arm from the active galaxy which contains two very high redshift, quasar-like objects” (see images below). It was this very enigma that two Spanish astronomers discussed in a 2002 paper in Astronomy and Astrophysics, in which they stated: “As far as we are aware, this is the most impressive case of a system of anomalous redshifts discovered so far” (see López-Corredoira and Gutiérrez, 2002, p. L15). Let us explain.

In figure A below, there are four objects. NGC 7603 is a spiral galaxy with a redshift value of 0.029. Object 1 is a quasar with z = 0.057. Objects 2 and 3 are quasar-like objects with z values of 0.243 and 0.391 respectively. As López-Corredoira and Gutiérrez noted: “Everything points to the four objects being connected among themselves, but how to explain the different redshifts?” (p. L17). How to explain indeed? Gribbin lamented: “That strikes at the foundation stone of received cosmological wisdom” (p. 65). It certainly does! As Dr. Arp himself put it in an e-mail to us on March 27, 2003, this is a case where “we once again are experiencing a situation where data get thrown out if they don’t fit the theory.” Big Bang cosmology simply cannot explain “Arp’s anomalies.”

Galaxy with Redshift Values


Arp, Halton (1966), “Atlas of Peculiar Galaxies,” [On-line], URL: http://nedwww.ipac. html.

Gribbin, John (1987), “Book Review” [of Halton Arp’s Quasars, Redshifts and Controversies], New Scientist, p. 65, October.

Kaufmann, William III (1981), “The Most Feared Astronomer on Earth,” Science Digest, 89[6]:76-81,117, July.

López-Corredoira, Martin and Carlos M. Gutiérrez (2002), “Two Emission Line Objects with z>0.2 in the Optical Filament Apparently Connecting the Seyfert Galaxy NGC 7603 to Its Companion,” Astronomy and Astrophysics, 390:L15-L18.

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