Thursday, December 4, 2014

Astronomers: Alignment of quasars is "spooky"

The European Southern Observatory (ESO), "formally the European Organisation for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere; Observatoire européen austral in French) is a 15-nation intergovernmental research organisation for astronomy. Created in 1962, ESO has provided astronomers with state-of-the-art research facilities and access to the southern sky."

Two weeks ago the ESO published a very technical paper about quasars' alignment across the universe which its news release called "spooky" since there is less than a one percent chance the alignments are the result simply of chance.  

Quasars (short for "quasi-stellar objects") are are supermassive black holes in the center of their host galaxies. "These black holes are surrounded by spinning discs of extremely hot material that is often spewed out in long jets along their axes of rotation. Quasars can shine more brightly than all the stars in the rest of their host galaxies put together."

The ESO studied 93 quasars "that were known to form huge groupings spread over billions of light-years, seen at a time when the Universe was about one third of its current age." 
The first odd thing we noticed was that some of the quasars’ rotation axes were aligned with each other — despite the fact that these quasars are separated by billions of light-years,” said Hutsemékers. 
The team then went further and looked to see if the rotation axes were linked, not just to each other, but also to the structure of the Universe on large scales at that time. 
When astronomers look at the distribution of galaxies on scales of billions of light-years they find that they are not evenly distributed. They form a cosmic web of filaments and clumps around huge voids where galaxies are scarce. This intriguing and beautiful arrangement of material is known as large-scale structure. 
The new VLT results indicate that the rotation axes of the quasars tend to be parallel to the large-scale structures in which they find themselves. So, if the quasars are in a long filament then the spins of the central black holes will point along the filament. The researchers estimate that the probability that these alignments are simply the result of chance is less than 1%.  ...
The alignments in the new data, on scales even bigger than current predictions from simulations, may be a hint that there is a missing ingredient in our current models of the cosmos,” concludes Dominique Sluse.
"... the probability that these alignments are simply the result of chance is less than 1%." 

Which means, apparently, that there is a 99 percent chance that the alignment is deliberately contrived. Now how could that be?

Scientist Robert Griffiths, winner of the Heinemann Prize in mathematical physics, once told an interviewer, "If we need an atheist for a debate, we go to the philosophy department. The physics department isn't much use."

And so:
"The heavens declare the glory of God;
    the skies proclaim the work of his hands." Psalm 19.1 
 The ESO's news release is,"Spooky Alignment of Quasars Across Billions of Light-years"

The technical paper is, "Alignment of quasar polarizations with large-scale structures."

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