(c) Copyright 2011 Louis Marmet
The European Southern Observatory (ESO) recently reported a surprise while observing two extremely distant galaxies; at a very high redshift (z = 3.57); so far away that they are seen as they were a long time ago: only 1.8 billion years after Big Bang.
News Flash: (June 12, 2012) This article was just nominated as one of the best science blog articles of the past year at 3-Quarks Daily. In voting it just missed getting in the top 20 of the 107 articles nominated; proving more popular than several Scientific American articles.
The surprise was to discover that the cool gas in these presumably young galaxies was very rich in heavy elements (all called metals), a chemical composition usually only seen in older galaxies because it takes so long to make heavy elements. The ESO web site reports that an international team used the flash of a distant gamma-ray burst GRB 090323 as a probe to study the spectra of the two galaxies (G0 and G1).
The bright light emitted by the burst was absorbed by the gas in both galaxies. The measured absorption spectrum allowed an evaluation of the density of heavy elements.
In a preprint submitted to the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, they explain that the metallicity of G1 “is also among the highest ever inferred, with other systems of comparable density all residing at z < 2.9. [...] At this high redshift, this would make G1 a rare object."
To explain this surprising observation, they claim that “the newly discovered pair of young galaxies must be forming new stars at a tremendous rate, to enrich the cool gas so strongly and quickly.” The two galaxies “may be in the process of merging, which would also provoke star formation when the gas clouds collide.”
The problem with this interpretation is that the metallicity is almost ten times higher than the metallicity of objects measured at the same redshift. The ESO report claims that this is “something unthinkable until recently,” but provides no explanation why we should accept the conclusion that these galaxies have a high rate of star formation!
The preprint suggests that “what happens at higher redshift is not totally understood,” and “the situation might be different in the nearby Universe,” but still accepts that the observed galaxies are only 1.8 billion years old.
Certainly, these two galaxies haven’t been merging for their entire life. It is difficult to understand how such a high density of heavy elements could have been formed in such a short time.
Of course, if the universe is much older than the Big Bang model accounts for, then these galaxies form new stars at the same rate as all other galaxies. The interpretation of the cosmological redshift as a Doppler shift forces cosmologists to assign a limit to the age of the universe.
Not only do the new results point to a weakness of the Big Bang model, they support non-conventional redshift mechanism. The two galaxies G0 and G1 made visible by GRB 090323 have heavy elements because they are much older than 1.8 billion years!
ESO Press Release: VLT Observations of Gamma-ray Burst Reveal Surprising Ingredients of Early Galaxies
Louis Marmet is a research scientist in experimental physics dedicated to precision spectroscopic measurements, quantum effects and fundamental physics. His background is in nonlinear optics and optical cooling. He works on developing atomic clocks to obtain a physical realization of the international SI second. He is currently improving on a primary time standard which does not lose or gain more than a millionth of a second in 5 years.
His lifelong interest in physics, astronomy and mathematics and the philosophy of science taught by his father, Paul Marmet, are very important in his research.
“Years ago, the statement was made that there is no known mechanism that can produce a redshift without blurring the images of distant galaxies. But the development of optical cooling theory in the 1980′s provided new mechanisms to explain the cosmological redshift.”
“Recently, I was able to apply optical trapping theory to the field of astrophysics. Through a coherent interaction, I showed that light can be redshifted in free electrons in a way that mimics the Doppler redshift. The implications of this theory will change cosmology as we know it.”