Quasar axes aligned along filaments


On November 20, 2014, the Daily Mail published an article in which they said that it was 'spooky' that the centers of galaxies were aligned.

Observations with the Very Large Telescope in Chile have shown that the axes of quasars are aligned along the cosmological filaments in which they are embedded. Quasars are the hyper-luminous centers of galaxies and possess massive polar jets extending from their spin axes. The distant quasars are so brilliant that that they outshine all the stars in their host galaxy as shown in this photograph from NASA.

NASA quasar


The quasar brilliance tapers off as we come forward in time, and hence closer to our own location in space. Indeed, the center of our Milky Way galaxy has the remnant of our original quasar and the remains of its polar jets can also be traced. This central object in our galaxy is still emitting X-rays and gamma rays. The data suggest a picture like this for our galaxy and its center:

Milky Way

An important summary of the study just released states: “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 [quasars] will point along the filament. The researchers estimate that the probability that these alignments are simply the result of chance is less than one per cent. … '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,' added Professor Dominique Sluse [who led the study team].”

This comes as additional confirmation of something that had already been noted with galaxies closer to us in space. In 2010, the Sloan Digital Sky Survey found that the spin axes of these closer galaxies (and hence the remains of the object in their centers) were also found to be aligned along the filaments in which they are embedded as illustrated schematically here:

galaxy alignment

This alignment of galaxy axes came as a shock at the time, since it is difficult to account for this fact on the Standard Model. However, the most recent development of quasar axis alignments not only reinforces the earlier study, but also shows that this is a cosmos-wide phenomenon. An illustration of what this most recent study found is here:

galaxy alignment2


As a result of these developments, astronomers will have to re-assess their Standard Model.

It is at this juncture that it needs to be pointed out that a revolution is occurring in astronomy. For over 300 years, since the time of Newton, astronomers have usually tried to explain things in terms of a gravitational model. In modern astronomy, this has led to the postulation of dark energy, missing mass and black holes in order to account gravitationally for what we see. All these ideas have their problems. However, since the early 1990’s a different paradigm has started to emerge, thanks to plasma physics, which has an answer to these problems. It has been discovered that over 99% of the matter making up the universe is in the form of plasma. Plasma is sometimes considered to be the 4th state of matter after solid, liquid and gas. When the atoms of a gas are ionized or have their electrons stripped off, they then exist as a collections of positively charged atomic nuclei (or ions) and negatively charged electrons. When these charged particles move, they form an electric current. Furthermore, every electric current has a circling magnetic field. This circling magnetic field constrains the plasma to form filaments and sheets, with vast voids in between. A plasma universe, therefore, is not expected to be modeled and controlled by gravitational forces, but rather by the forces of electricity and magnetism. It comes as a shock to realize that, out in space, the forces of electricity and magnetism can be up to 10^39 times stronger than gravity.

It is in this context that the present study is of great interest. The large-scale structure of the universe is proven to be made up of filaments and voids. A plot of galaxy position reveals that they form a filamentary, web-like structure with voids between the filaments as shown here.

galaxy cluster positions

This is fully expected on the Plasma Model; indeed it was predicted by plasma pioneer H. Alfven in 1950. It came as a shock to astronomers in 1997 when it was confirmed beyond doubt that the structure of the cosmos was indeed filaments and voids. Gravitational astronomy can only produce this feature of the universe by the very fine-tuned action of dark matter. It is difficult to achieve. This most recent feature, the alignment of the spin axes of quasars and galaxies along the filaments is even more difficult to account for. However, on the Plasma Model it is to be expected. Perhaps a word of explanation is needed.

In the lab, experiments can be done with plasma filaments, and, because plasma scales linearly, the results of these experiments can be up-scaled in size to structures we see in the cosmos. When two or more parallel plasma filaments intertwine in the lab, miniature spiral galaxies are formed. In fact, all the known types of galaxies can be reproduced in miniature in a sequence. The following URL gives an illustration of the interaction of two filaments in the lab that did this. We are looking down the long axis of the filaments.

lab filaments

In a close pair of parallel filaments in the lab, and also in space, there can be any number of interactions along the common filament axis, each one producing a galaxy. Each galaxy will be spinning like a bead on the string of the interacting filaments. So the galaxies spin axes, and that of the quasar in each of their centers, will be parallel to the filament axis. It therefore comes as no surprise to plasma astronomers that this is exactly what is seen in the depths of space; it fits perfectly with the lab experiments and so is completely predictable. However, this feature of the universe leaves gravitational astronomers scratching their heads. As Professor Sluse noted above, there is indeed an ingredient missing from the Standard Model based on gravitation. It may yet be that only the Plasma Model can supply an easy solution to the gravitational astronomer’s dilemma.

Barry Setterfield, 28th November, 2014.