Hubble telescope sees 13.4 billion years into the past

Hubble team breaks cosmic distance record

This image shows the position of the most distant galaxy discovered so far within a deep sky Hubble Space Telescope survey called GOODS North (Great Observatories Origins Deep Survey North). The survey field contains tens of thousands of galaxies stretching far back into time. The remote galaxy GN-z11, shown in the inset, existed only 400 million years after the Big Bang, when the Universe was only 3 percent of its current age. It belongs to the first generation of galaxies in the Universe and its discovery provides new insights into the very early Universe. This is the first time that the distance of an object so far away has been measured from its spectrum, which makes the measurement extremely reliable. GN-z11 is actually ablaze with bright, young, blue stars but these look red in this image because its light was stretched to longer, redder, wavelengths by the expansion of the Universe. CREDIT NASA, ESA, and P. Oesch (Yale University)

This image shows the position of the most distant galaxy discovered so far within a deep sky Hubble Space Telescope survey called GOODS North (Great Observatories Origins Deep Survey North). The survey field contains tens of thousands of galaxies stretching far back into time. The remote galaxy GN-z11, shown in the inset, existed only 400 million years after the Big Bang, when the Universe was only 3 percent of its current age. It belongs to the first generation of galaxies in the Universe and its discovery provides new insights into the very early Universe. This is the first time that the distance of an object so far away has been measured from its spectrum, which makes the measurement extremely reliable. GN-z11 is actually ablaze with bright, young, blue stars but these look red in this image because its light was stretched to longer, redder, wavelengths by the expansion of the Universe. CREDIT NASA, ESA, and P. Oesch (Yale University)

By pushing NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope to its limits, an international team of astronomers has shattered the cosmic distance record by measuring the farthest galaxy ever seen in the universe. This surprisingly bright infant galaxy, named GN-z11, is seen as it was 13.4 billion years in the past, just 400 million years after the Big Bang. GN-z11 is located in the direction of the constellation of Ursa Major.

“We’ve taken a major step back in time, beyond what we’d ever expected to be able to do with Hubble. We see GN-z11 at a time when the universe was only three percent of its current age,” explained principal investigator Pascal Oesch of Yale University. The team includes scientists from Yale University, the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), and the University of California.

Astronomers are closing in on the first galaxies that formed in the universe. The new Hubble observations take astronomers into a realm that was once thought to be only reachable with NASA’s upcoming James Webb Space Telescope.

This measurement provides strong evidence that some unusual and unexpectedly bright galaxies found earlier in Hubble images are really at extraordinary distances. Previously, the team had estimated GN-z11’s distance by determining its color through imaging with Hubble and NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope. Now, for the first time for a galaxy at such an extreme distance, the team used Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 to precisely measure the distance to GN-z11 spectroscopically by splitting the light into its component colors.

Astronomers measure large distances by determining the “redshift” of a galaxy. This phenomenon is a result of the expansion of the universe; every distant object in the universe appears to be receding from us because its light is stretched to longer, redder wavelengths as it travels through expanding space to reach our telescopes. The greater the redshift, the farther the galaxy.

“Our spectroscopic observations reveal the galaxy to be even farther away than we had originally thought, right at the distance limit of what Hubble can observe,” said Gabriel Brammer of STScI, second author of the study.


Before astronomers determined the distance for GN-z11, the most distant galaxy measured spectroscopically had a redshift of 8.68 (13.2 billion years in the past). Now, the team has confirmed GN-z11 to be at a redshift of 11.1, nearly 200 million years closer to the Big Bang. “This is an extraordinary accomplishment for Hubble. It managed to beat all the previous distance records held for years by much larger ground-based telescopes,” said investigator Pieter van Dokkum of Yale University. “This new record will likely stand until the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope.”

The combination of Hubble’s and Spitzer’s imaging reveals that GN-z11 is 25 times smaller than the Milky Way and has just one percent of our galaxy’s mass in stars. However, the newborn GN-z11 is growing fast, forming stars at a rate about 20 times greater than our galaxy does today. This makes an extremely remote galaxy bright enough for astronomers to find and perform detailed observations with both Hubble and Spitzer.

The results reveal surprising new clues about the nature of the very early universe. “It’s amazing that a galaxy so massive existed only 200 million to 300 million years after the very first stars started to form. It takes really fast growth, producing stars at a huge rate, to have formed a galaxy that is a billion solar masses so soon,” explained investigator Garth Illingworth of the University of California, Santa Cruz.

These findings provide a tantalizing preview of the observations that the James Webb Space Telescope will perform after it is launched into space in 2018. “Hubble and Spitzer are already reaching into Webb territory,” Oesch said.

“This new discovery shows that the Webb telescope will surely find many such young galaxies reaching back to when the first galaxies were forming,” added Illingworth.

This discovery also has important consequences for NASA’s planned Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST), which will have the ability to find thousands of such bright, very distant galaxies.

The team’s findings have been accepted for publication in an upcoming edition of theAstrophysical Journal.


The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and the European Space Agency. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, manages the telescope. The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore conducts Hubble science operations. STScI is operated for NASA by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc., in Washington.

For more information about previous times Hubble broke the distance record, visit:

243 thoughts on “Hubble telescope sees 13.4 billion years into the past

  1. Things are not adding up. Where is the previous record distant galaxy relative to GN-z11 and why didn’t they name it in the article so we could look it up? If the Universe formed from a Big Bang, then the two most distant galaxies should be quite near each other.

      • Yes, but that means that my friend and I move at 2 times 60 mph relative to one another. The two galaxies would have been moving apart from each other at twice the speed of light. I thought that was a no-no?

      • lsvalgaard
        They could be in opposite parts of the sky… 25 billion light years apart.

        Yes – but they would then be outside of eachother’s light cone. Only the part of the universe within the light cone, from any perspective, can be seen. Outside the light cone means that light from that point has not enough time in the universe’s history to reach the viewer.

      • “relative to one another.”
        Ahhh, the key, since one can only measure the speed using “light” or its fundamentals, then nothing can be measured as going faster. So two objects going toward one another at near light speed can only measure one another as being near light speed. Confusing aint it…..

      • The answer has something to do with time dilation. I saw an article a number of years back that explained how to get around this apparent contradiction. The guy made the math work, and my head hurt at the same time.

      • But if we are seeing this galaxy only 400 million years after the little big bang, wouldn’t its younger neighbor be closer than 25 billion years, or more like 10 billion based on the younger old record holder.

        Well I guess that earth is actually at the center of the universe, because right here is where the little bang occurred, so if that remote old geezer is 13.4 billion years away, then yes the other one would 8.68 in the other direction, from the center which is where we are now.

        It’s all very confusing. I’m glad that you understand it Leif.


      • True, they could be on opposite sides of the expanding universe, so here is a question that puzzles me about this. If the light I am looking at came from a galaxy AT that position in the night sky, and that position is 13+ billion years ago, how long did it take to get to that position, and WHY do astronomers pretend this is looking back nearly to the beginning of the universe? If you can’t travel faster than light, then it would have taken more than 13 billion years to get to the point where 13 billion years ago it emitted the light we are seeing.

        Also, notice the comment that says these are young blue stars but they appear red because the wavelength has been stretched by the expansion of the universe? Seriously? but I contend that whether there was a big bang or not, what is being seen as 13+ billion light years away WAS THERE when it emitted the light, not 400 million light years from ground zero, and then teleported all the way out there to emit the light.

      • george,

        Everyone (in fact, every particle) is at the center of its own 13.4 billion light year bubble. It’s all relative.

        And why would the big bang have to happen in only one place? Maybe it happened everywhere…

      • Except where it didn’t, Leif; they’re looking at a companion universe to ours even now, which means there are places (perhaps the vast majority) where our Big Bang wasn’t part of the action.

      • A 2D analogy.

        Imagine three points on a deflated balloon. The points are relatively close together. Now inflate the balloon. The expansion of the 2D surface of the balloon means the three points are racing away from each other. The greater the distance the greater the surface is expanding and the greater the apparent relative velocity between any two points. From one point you could see the other two points racing away from you quite possibly in opposite directions.

        Now imagine the balloon is weather balloon. This means it can become very very big. Not only that it could be attached to a radio sonde which everyone knows would just confirm the satellite findings.

      • Everywhere was all in the same place at the time of the big bang which is why I call it a little bang.

        So I don’t have a need for multiple bangs; at least not at the same time. One is enough, and after this one is through, there may be another one everywhere at some other time.

        I won’t be here to post on the next bang.


      • “””””….. lsvalgaard

        March 7, 2016 at 11:29 am

        What we can see is very much part of our observable universe… …..”””””

        Funny why some people think that there must be places that are not parts of this universe.

        In my (simplistic) view; no matter how weird or bizarre it may seem; if it manifest itself to us by any means, even LIGO detected ” Einstein waves” it is a part of THE universe.

        If it does not manifest itself to us in any way, even in principle, then it is not a part of science.


      • I get it .. so the light cone joins the ever lengthening list of things that are taboo to believe in here at WUWT, like the big bang, etc..

      • @belousov:

        It is important to remember that just because two objects are within OUR light cone, they are NOT necessarily in each other’s light cone. This is exactly the reason the terms “the universe” and “the observable universe” are not synonyms.

      • Michael

        It’s called expansion, the effect of which (for a brief period of time) creates a space (aka universe) that appears to have moved faster than the speed of light. The mass within the universe didn’t move faster than the speed of light, but the “fabric” of the universe did.

        Some physicists postulate that expansion may create universal “neighborhoods”, which can never actually see each other, and ma have different values for basic physical constants. Interesting stuff.

      • @Chip Javert:
        We’re fairly certain that there ARE areas outside our light cone which nevertheless reside within our physical universe. However, if the attributes of spacetime (e.g) changed depending on where in spacetime you were, then light and gravity and electromagnetism, etc., would all behave differently in those places, and those differences could most likely be observed quite easily.

        Extending that to these possible non-observable regions outside our light cone, any areas which directly border observable space which do not share constants also will likely influence the observable regions in observable ways. In other words, what we cannot see outside our LC can be seen from those areas, and can influence them quite significantly.

        It is the lack of variation in what we can see — combined with the lack of undue influence from that which we cannot — which is why most modern cosmology generally assumes that all physical constants are A) actually constants and not variables, and B) don’t change no matter where the observer is located.

        These ARE only assumptions, but they have the virtue of remaining unchallenged by observations to this point.

      • Anyone is free to believe anything they want to believe. But ” Science ” according to OED definition involves “observation” and “experimentation”, which are real (not abstract) things. Feel free to use any dictionary of your choice instead of OED.

        So if “it” is NOT OBSERVABLE by ANY means, which means it does NOT manifest itself to US in any shape or form, then it is NOT a part of ANY science. This includes inclusion of situations where something might be “observable” (detectable) if we just had better instruments or sensors (bring money), such as the recent observation of predicted “Einstein Waves”, which were a concoction of his general theory of Relativity, and Gravitation.

        Anything which cannot be observed/sensed/detected/seen/heard/felt/smelled/tasted/whatever, BY ANY MEANS no matter what, is simply NOT a part of science.

        May be very damn interesting; just not in any science study.

        That for example includes MATHEMATICS; none of which is observable anywhere in the universe; but which comprises an invaluable ART form that we made up ourselves for our own use.


      • Einstein has it right:

        As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain, and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality.

        BTW Leif, thanks for your explanations up-thread

    • The previous record holder, with relative distance from the new discovery, is shown in the graphic labeled: “Hubble spectroscopically confirms farthest galaxy to date”.

    • I highlighted “redshift of 8.68” in the article, right-clicked, and chose Search Google for “redshift of 8.68…”. A fraction of a second later I knew everything I wanted to know about EGSY8p7.

      The 21st century can get away with a lot.

    • If the Universe formed from a Big Bang, then the two most distant galaxies should be quite near each other.

      No, they were quite near to each other. The Universe has expanded a lot and that is why now they are very far from each other.

      What I do wonder is why so often then very first commenter sets up something like this. Trolling? Or just that the people who are prone to comment are more negative towards the article than others?

      • We can’t see the galaxies as they are today, of course. We only see them as they were over 13 billion light years ago. The light streaming from both galaxies must have started out fairly close to each other. But what now may appear as a great distance between the two galaxies is actually the expansion of the universe that occurred between the two light streams as they traveled for over 13 billion years. We can probably assume that the expansion that occurred between the two light streams also occurred between the two galaxies, but we have no observations to confirm that.

      • george

        Actually, the speed of light is quite easy to change, which is how a prism separates light into a variety of colors. It also explains the distortion when you’re above water viewing something at an angle under water.

        I think what you meant was the speed of light in a vacuum is constant (black holes not withstanding).

      • Chip, “Actually, the speed of light is quite easy to change”.

        I think this is done by lengthen the way.

      • Correction: Report your observations of changes in …. c ….


        PS when I say “speed of light” I always mean …. c …. If I want to refer to wave velocity, phase velocity, group velocity, or any other peculiarity of a propagating electromagnetic wave in any medium, I would specifically use more precise terms.

        …. c …. is one of only three fundamental physical constants of nature that have EXACT values not subject to any error bars. The other two are epsilon nought the permittivity of free space,(vacuum) and mu nought, the permeability of free space (vacuum).

        Together they compute the value of …. c …. as sqrt (1/ mu. epsilon) (put you own noughts in there), and also the characteristic impedance of free space (vacuum) which is sqrt( mu/epsilon) also add some noughts.

        …. c …. is approximately 2.99792xxxx E8 m/s (don’t have my physics encyclopedia with me) and Z0 is about 120 pi Ohms = 377 Ohms.

        If you have a medium with a characteristic impedance of Z0 (377 Ohms) all electromagnetic radiation will pass right through it with zero reflection at the interface.

        Stealth paint, tries to match 377 Ohms.


    • The fundamental laws of physics were defined at the Big Bang, and never change. That definitely includes the speed of light. The characteristics of light at or near the intense gravitational field of a black hole are consistent and are all part of the grand show.

      • What kind of a law is something that can be defined as one has already a running Universe at hand? No, you choose your algebra before you press Enter, and you don’t really have any choice, you take the whole algebra that works.

        The God has no choice.

  2. Can someone please explain how this galaxy from 13.4 billion years ago has a redshift of about 11 while the CMB from 13.8 billion years ago which was released after the rapid inflation period has a redshift of about 1190? From simple extrapolation the CMB should have a redshift of about 12 unless weird stuff was happening.

    • Its one of ‘those relatively mysteries’. I’ve seen the equations, and they look clear enough, but they also doubly raise up redshifts with distance. Odd stuff, that Relativity.

    • The Cosmic Microwave Background which has a red shift of 1090 was emitted when the Universe was 372,000 years old. The light from the galaxy in question was emitted 400 million years later during which the Universe had expanded so much that the red shift was 100 times smaller.

      • It’s also weird that a galaxy so close to the big bang has such a low redshift as it suggests that there has been almost no expansion since 400 million years after the big bang at most…

    • The equation is redshift = c / (c-v) – 1, where c = speed of light, and v = recessional velocity. So as you can see, at high z, it doesn’t take much difference in v to change the redshift one up or down. Mind you, I’ve got big reservations about the FRW cosmology. Every era thinks it’s got all the answers, and that the era of 100 years before was stupid. No reason to think today’s era is any different.

      • v = recessional velocity
        Except that there is no ‘recessional velocity’ involved. The galaxies do not move. Space is expanding. The red shift z is defined by 1 + z = Lr / Le = a(r) / a(e), where Lr is the wave length of a given spectral line when the light is received by us and Le is the wavelength of the same line when it was emitted by the galaxy. Alternatively one could use the size a(r) [scale factor] of a piece of the Universe at the time of reception of the light and the scale factor a(e) of the same piece at the time of emission. No velocities involved.

      • Now, Leif, it’s very common in your profession to express redshift as a recessional velocity in km/sec, as you doubtless know. “Recessional velocity” is the precise term used by your colleagues. I suppose it’s worth highlighting the altered meaning to the readers here — that is, if you buy into FRW which I’m not so sure about.

      • No, it is not common [because it is wrong]. The Cosmic Microwave Background has a red shift of 1092. What rrecessional velocity in km/sec would you assign to that?

      • If you must have a cite, Leif, I’ll pick one out of a pile of thousands, so e.g.,….150…28M
        … wherein the abstract states “The positional accuracy of the survey is 28″ and detections are found out to a recessional velocity of nearly 19,000 km s-1. The survey confirms the extent of the Orion and Abell 539 clusters behind the plane of the Milky Way and discovers expansive voids, at 10,000 and 18,000 km s-1.
        As you very well know, Leif, the convention is used only this side of z=1, so it’s silly to ask for the “recessional velocity” of the CMB which is modeled at z~1100.

      • A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.
        Sometimes things are dumbed down a bit or expressed as a velocity in order to compare with older literature. The observational data is the red shift, as the galaxies do not move [apart from minor local movements due to interaction with neighboring galaxies]. You are yourself onto the truth by noting that nobody uses velocities for z greater than one.
        The problem you have is to think that the red shift is due to the Doppler effect. It is not.
        Since the red shift is proportional to the distance, if it were due to the Doppler effect the velocity would be increasing all the time as the distance to the galaxy increases. What would make the galaxy move faster and faster? The answer is easy: it doesn’t move at all. Space is expanding instead.

      • The WordPress editor is mucking up the link, the citation is

        2015, AJ, 150, 28
        The ALFA ZOA Deep Survey: First Results
        Authors: McIntyre, T. P.; Henning, P. A.; Minchin, R. F.; Momjian, E.; Butcher, Z.
        website is:….150…28M (this seems to work provided I do not preface it with “http://”.

      • Your link is to a paper describing measurements of what is called the ‘peculiar velocity of the Local Group of galaxies’. This has nothing to do with the expansion of the Universe, but all to do with the [real] movements of the galaxies. What we measure is the combination of the cosmological red shift and the actual real movements of galaxies due to gravitational interactions. Since the latter is a velocity, it makes sense to express the data as such. On the scale of the expansion of the Universe the only measure that makes sense is the red shift.

      • Btw, Leif, I certainly agree that the galaxies aren’t moving. But about space expanding, I’d ask you to consider that space is a subset of space-time, and in such a manifold there’s no justification for holding time constant while expanding the space — time should be affected by expansion also, with unmodelled effect. Indeed, other dimensions in a more general manifold are likely in play. This is why I’m not accepting that spatial expansion must be true — we’re just trying to do too much with an incomplete manifold, I think.

      • The Cosmic Microwave Background has a red shift of 1092. What recessional velocity in km/sec would you assign to that?

        Very high? If you want to kill recessional velocity as a term, you have alot to do.

      • No need to. As the accepted term for expansion is ‘red shift’, and for peculiar, local velocities is ‘recessional’. That people get them confused cannot be helped as there are a lot of willful ignorance involved.

    • Exactly, the cmb has a Z over 1100, and the farthest galaxy that we can see with Hubble is much closer to us.
      The farthest light, er em waves we can detect is the cmb, and has an 1100 redshirt and the visible universe has a redshirt a little over 10, implies the physical universe is likely 100 times bigger that we can see.

  3. Thanks, Anthony. I often think that our generation must be the luckiest of all for being witness to such amazing growth in scientific and technological knowledge. At times I can almost feel my head spinning.

  4. I love to ponder, all the life out there, all the other worlds and civilizations, though I suppose they are all based on water and carbon, 02, N2, etc., like we are, cells and DNA, I would love to know!

      • Depends on what you mean. Biochemistry is likely to be very similar.

        Structure likely to be different in that gravity has extreme influence on structure development. Small vs large planets would yield very different structures.

        Additionally, 5-digit hands appear to go back to fishes hundreds of millions of years ago. Some other number of digits is likely.

      • No gamecock, your stuck thinking inside the box ( our reality ) ! What would a life form on Jupiter look like ?
        Why would they need hands ?

      • The odds are against them being ! The improbability of the required sequence of organic chemical syntheses every repeating again is greater, than the vastness of the universe.


      • DB,

        You’re right.

        If the universe be infinite, then there are certainly life forms not just like us, but the same as you and me.

      • George

        Brian Cox (British physicist) wrote a great little book, Human Universe, as a love letter to humanity.

        A considerable portion of the book discusses the Drake Equation (calculate the probability of other intelligent life in the universe). Dr Cox’s educated guess: possibly 1 “intelligent” life form per galaxy (which means we’re pretty much alone)…but there are hundreds of billions of galaxies.

      • The Drake equation is a product of a whole bunch of factors (numerator) that are each arbitrary and quite unknown guesses as to the vastness of the universe. But the Drake equation has NO DENOMINATOR.

        The denominator, would be the improbability of occurrence in the correct sequence of each and every one of the chemical syntheses, that had to happen in order for self replicating organisms to come into existence starting with the primordial raw chemicals and presumably energy from say stars (sun) or electricity (lightning).

        For example, chemists have tried in vain to DELIBERATELY follow the synthesis sequence to living material. The problem often is that organic chemistry has lots of isomers, such as n, iso, para,ortho,whatever, and in spontaneous chemistry, some of those isomers are HEAVILY favored on energetic grounds, over other possible isomers, and the energetically favored isomers are quite often NOT the ones that have propagated to EVERY living form of DNA. I think there is some basic phosphorous compound that is apparently found in all life, that has never been successfully synthesized by serendipity starting with primordial soup. I have witnessed a life form (mold / mould) that seemed to thrive on Arsenic (was growing in a concentrated arsenic solution), and possibly WAS substituting Arsenic for Phosphorous. But I can’t prove that; but I did see it with my own eyes, in a high school chemistry lab/lecture room.

        And studies have proven that some favored syntheses DO lead to a dead end, and cannot proceed to a more complex molecule that exists in all life forms. Now I’m not a chemist so I’m just mentioning what I have read on the subject, but the end result is that the Drake equation is missing a denominator containing a whole host of improbabilities, that are at least the equal of the vastness of space. So infinity / infinity can still be zero.

        And NO, I do not fall back on the presumption of a deliberate action to bypass those improbable syntheses, and literally create an “intelligent” being out of whole cloth.

        The failure to offer a rational explanation for some observable phenomenon (life), does not justify the blind acceptance of a totally irrational explanation.


  5. If you look really close, you can see a 13.8 billion year old herd of unicorns flying around GN-z11, and a rainbow of course! Isn’t that special?!

  6. “This new discovery shows that the Webb telescope will surely find many such young galaxies reaching back to when the first galaxies were forming,” added Illingworth.”

    No doubt about it. Settled science on the way. Like ice-ball comets. Oh, wait a minute . . .

  7. Visit the Thunderbolts Project on Youtube. I would think this group would be receptive to new ideas. There is an alternative to the Big Bang.

    • Just be careful and don’t fall into the false dichotomy of ‘all this is true or all this is false’. The electric universe theory is that charge separation and current flow can occur in space. The rest are just hypotheses that have that as the common assumption.

      • When the current flows the charge separation disappears. It is called a ‘short’. To maintain the charge separation you need a magnetic field [and Nature knows how to create and maintain such a field – the mechanism is called a ‘dynamo’]. All interesting things are caused by electric currents created by conductors moving across magnetic fields – themselves maintained by the currents. The dynamo mechanism has been known for two hundred years.

    • Jeezus h, thank you. With so many people here in the know re mainstream science being one big corrupt joke, to a large degree, you would think there would be more people skeptical of gr and big bang and redshift= distance, etc.

      • Colinjames

        Confused about your “…With so many people here in the know re mainstream science being one big corrupt joke…” statement.

        Assuming you’re applying this to cosmology, the “corrupt joke” judgement is most probably incorrect; however, there are certainly a lot of pretty amazing (untested) theories (eg: string theory). Just because theories are not yet tested does not mean the process is a “corrupt joke”.

        On the other hand, the process is a “corrupt joke” if the theory is accepted even though it has been materially falsified (eg: current CAGW).

  8. Is expansion proved by observation of this red shift ? Could there be any other explanation ?

    • I read an article a number of years back that claimed the Compton (I think I have the name right) could cause some red shifting. Basically a photon interacts with a free electron in space and loses some of it’s energy. Most physicists discount this, I couldn’t give you an adequate explanation of the reasons.

      • Well, if the photon is reflected and thereby performed some work, f.i. pushed the reflector away. Heard of ‘light pressure’? May also yield blue shifting when decelerating the reflector.

      • Are you talking about the “Compton Effect.” ?? I think there is also a “Raman Effect”, but I think that might be a molecular phenomenon.

        There is a “Stokes Shift” energy loss, when a higher energy photon is absorbed in some material and replaced by a lower energy photon in some fluorescence process.

        This is crucial in the design of solid state lighting (LEDs)

        “Fluorescent” lights (of any kind) start with an electrical discharge in a low pressure gas, which generates UV (black light) which is NOT visible. The UV photons get absorbed in various kinds of “phosphors”, which then emit photons of a lower energy than the UV photons, say, blue, green, yellow, red photons). The resultant loss in photon energy is called the Stokes shift loss, and that lost photon energy is converted to “heat” (noun) energy IN the phosphor, so the phosphor gets hot. Feel the warmth of a fluorescent tube envelope (it’s not that hot). Don’t feel the warmth of an Edison lamp envelope; IT’S HOT !

        LEDs beat fluorescents in efficiency, because the blue part of the visible spectrum at about 460 nm is formed directly by high efficiency Indium Gallium Nitride LEDs. So there is NO Stokes shift loss for the blue part of the spectrum, which are the high energy photons. SOME of the blue photons get absorbed in a yellow looking phosphor coating, which may be a Cerium doped Yttrium Aluminum Garnet (YAG) (patented), which highly selectively absorbs 460 nm photons) and emits a broad yellowish spectrum which with the blue together form a bright white light. The yellow emission results in a Stokes shift loss. People don’t like bright white light; they like “warm white light” (I don’t), which has a color Temperature of 2700 K. It’s NOT white, it’s yellow. I don’t even like 3,000 K, it’s still yellow.

        To get good color rendition you need to add a red phosphor, which means even higher Stokes shift loss, and more heating. Virtually ALL red phosphors give a very broad red spectrum, and the human eye red sensitivity is crashing drastically at longer wavelengths, so red phosphors make a lot of radiation but the eye can’t see it. So warm white LEDs are poor efficiency.

        I like about 4,000 K for my white light, and it’s higher lumens per Watt.

        Now back to outer space !


    • zemlik

      Theories must have formal statements of cause and effect, and must “predict” behavior that can be tested and “falsified”. Technically speaking, theories are never “proven”. Confusingly, theories (eg: relativity) are generally accepted when they have withstood the test of time and rigorous testing.

      The expansion theory does indeed make testable predictions, and these (so far) conform to most observations. Is there another explanation? Sure – the Easter Bunny did it!

      All a competing theory needs to do is formally state cause & effect, and make falsifiable predictions that prove more accurate than the current Expansion theory…just as Einstein’s General Relativity superseded Newtonian mechanics. Note: Newtonian mechanics still accurately explains low-low-speed non-quantum stuff, and was used to send Americans to the moon and back,

      • ” and was used to send Americans to the moon and back,”
        Are you sure?
        They have to account for relativity in the motion of the gps satellites, or guidance is off.

      • micro

        You are correct in that satellite GPS needs to consider relativity.

        However, Apollo didn’t use GPS to go to the moon (and back) – they literally used guys with slide rules.

      • ” However, Apollo didn’t use GPS to go to the moon (and back) – they literally used guys with slide rules.”
        Then you missed my point.

      • hi, excuse my ignorance, I have limited understanding but I think I have logical thought.
        What are the testable predictions that conform to observations regarding expansion of universe and red shift ?

    • I have heard of a “tired light” theory, but I don’t recall it proving very viable. So far, expansion is the best fit.

  9. This article is based upon the Logical Fallacy of Begging the Question, assuming that RED SHIFT is a distance marker. Halton Arp, recently deceased, was drummed out of Astronomy (lost his professorship and use of Telescope Time at Cal Tech) for questioning that Red Shift was solely caused by radial velocity of an object. Read his book: Seeing Red

    The story of Anthropogenic Global Warming chronicled on this website parallels the story of the Big Bang/Expanding Universe controversy.

    Dan Kurt

      • @Isvalgaard

        I don’t care how you define it, to an observer from earth or in orbit (Hubble) there are only two components to measure in viewing stars and galaxies: radial velocity and and proper motion. The interpretation of the two data streams is the problem. You say tOOmato while I say toMATo.

        Dan Kurt

      • The red shift is not a measure of velocity. But a measure of the change of wavelength of light due to the stretching of space.Think of dots painted on an inflating balloon. They do not move relative to the material of the balloon. There is no problem at all.

      • On the one hand you’re stating that, at a constant velocity, it takes more time to traverse the distance between two landmarks tomorrow than it did yesterday because the distance between them is growing.

        On the other hand you’re stuck claiming that it is not the distance that is increasing, but the ‘space’ between them. That is, it is not distance that is increasing, but that it is distance that is increasing instead. Stated plainly and without the proper sort of academic attire, it’s simply too vapid an argument to be believed by anyone that isn’t on a Federal Grant program of some manner.

        You could attempt to salvage that latter by stating that if the distance is *not* increasing, but that the traversal time *is,* then it must be that time is ‘speeding up’. But that breaks all manner of deeply cherished things.

        Mathematically, these are all the same. Metaphysically they are not. Oddly, none of them are mutually exclusive. So which is it in fact, which is it not, and what experiments have proven the matter? Or is this all motivated reasoning and computer models again?

      • If space is expanding the distance between two galaxies is increasing too, just like the distance between two dots on an inflating balloon increases without the dots moving relative to the material of the balloon. This should be easy to understand.

      • If galaxies are not moving, and if space is expanding equally everywhere(?), then the folks on the hyped up science shows that say Andromeda will crash into us in some billions(?) of years are then wrong and full of shit?

      • Thanks Mr. I,

        So the Andromeda mass is moving (net) toward me…. The very old twinkly mass is moving away from me (almost solely through of the “in between space expansion”)….

        Not to be a pain in the ass with the questions, but far away masses also are modeled as to interact via gravity as well. So, which galactic mass is just the right distance away so as to appear static with respect to me (its red isn’t stretched or squished) and how far away is it? and is it about 1/2187th of the “diameter” of the universe?

        Or such a mass doesn’t exist (or nobody cares about such) and this is a goofy question?

        [and if my balloon points don’t get farther apart with respect to the space of the balloon then my balloon space certainly gets thinner … never-mind….]

      • this analogy with a balloon messed up my comprehension of what the universe might be like for most of my early life.

    • The story of Anthropogenic Global Warming chronicled on this website parallels the story of the Big Bang/Expanding Universe controversy.

      Dan Kurt

      With respect Dan, no it doesn’t. Many of us emphatically do not consent for skepticism in global warming to be linked to opposition to:
      – The Big Bang
      – Red shift meaning cosmic distance
      – Gravitational waves and general relativity
      – Vaccines
      – Evolution by natural selection
      – Ice ages and Milankovich cycles

      Or belief in the “Electric Universe”

      And other popular pseudoscientific errors.

      Skepticism of AGW is based on the true application of the scientific method, not on dissent against the scientific method.

      The principal scientific error of AGW is the stasis fallacy – the utterly egregious fallacy of belief contrary to all evidence in the normalcy of static unchangeing climate (a nonexistent, absurd and physically impossible fiction) and ignorance of chaotic nonlinear dynamics contributing to the stasis fallacy.

      • belousov March 7, 2016 at 8:23 am
        . . . Many of us emphatically do not consent for skepticism in global warming to be linked to opposition to. . . popular pseudoscientific errors.

        Ah, but how does the Climatist Orthodoxy define CAGW skeptics? As ‘pseudoscientific heretics’, of course. Be careful whose ideas you brand as ‘pseudoscientific’.

        For the record, the late Halton Arp was clearly a real scientist. He was a dedicated and expert observational astronomer, whose Atlas of Peculiar Galaxies (1966) is still a reference work in the field. In the course of his work he noticed that some of these ‘peculiar’ galaxies appeared to be not one, but two objects that by some measures were equidistant from us, or visibly linked, or both, but had very different redshifts. In order to explain these anomalous observations, Prof. Arp explored the possibility of ‘intrinsic redshift’, which obviously raised questions about the growing orthodoxy of the Big Bang. For this heresy Arp was ostracized, losing his access to the telescope at Mount Palomar, and to journals and conferences in the field.

        It is claimed that advances in telescopy and instrumentation have resolved many of Arp’s anomalies, but whether that includes all the redshift ones, I don’t know.

        The need to account for anomalous evidence from observation or experiment is the very essence of scientific inquiry. That a well-established and respected scientist could be shunned and denounced for pursuing such inquiry is a scandal of huge proportions, but it is one that has been repeated many times in the history of science. Elites in science are like any others, too often rigid and intolerant of any ideas that might suggest uncertainty or error in their own convictions. It is exactly that rigidity that the Scientific Method is designed to overcome, but too often it becomes a struggle lasting decades, even generations.

        /Mr Lynn

      • Well I’m not one to throw dust at early ‘ experts ‘; but I was around in 1966, and right in the middle of ” stuff “. I built my first (infra-red) LED in 1966 for a small computer company named IBM. So I have seen a lot of stuff happen (to knowledge) since 1966, including the whole Hubble thing.
        So I can imagine that whatever Arp was doing in 1966, might be as irrelevant as is whatever I was doing in 1966, because the universe has moved on, and even with my very limited knowledge, I believe the universe now, as the experts know it, is a lot different from any view Arp may have had circa 1966.
        In another 50 years; our great grand children will wonder what we are all blathering about.


      • “Skepticism of AGW is based on the true application of the scientific method, not on dissent against the scientific method.”

        Uh, yeh. So before we go down the rabbit hole of True Scotsman with True Applications of the True Scientific Method — define first what the True Scientific Method is. For if it does not comport with that, it is not a matter of ‘true’ or ‘false’ applications; it is *either* consistent with the Scientific Method or not.

        Once we’ve squared that little detail up we can get onto the bigger kettles of fish about whether AGW is Science or seance. Or even whether we should accept that their is any meaningful distinction between Science and seance in the first place. And after that just where and in whom we should place our deeply cherished beliefs about how the universe works and what needs to be done to make rain.

      • Seance could be though of as part of th escientific method – to whit a conjecture that the dead can be communicated with using such procedures. To date there are no controlled experiments that support this conjecture, and no proposed mechanism by which the communication could arise. By applying science we consider it extemely doubtful that post living communication of this kind is possible. We do not say it is impossible, but we say there is no reason to believe it is possible.

  10. Rather remarkable that we exist in the center of the Big Bang Universe.
    An idea that is as wonderful as the one that the Earth was the center of the Geocentric creation.
    Much more likely that space is curved and we are looking at ourselves in the rear view mirror…pg

    • We are in the center of our own light cone.
      So is everyone everywhere.
      Not the center of the Big Bang Universe.

  11. Where is any evidence that this faraway galaxy is “young”?
    Low resolution of this image, obtained by very doubtful methods, doesn’t allow for such a conclusion — for any conclusions related to the stage of development of this galaxy.
    Or is it just a mandatory obeisance to the failed Big Bang hoax?
    “Electric Universe” fad, by the way, has nothing to do with the fact that a creationist fairy tale of the Big Bang is not confirmed by observations. Arp and Hoyle were right, after all.

  12. I’m having a hard time with this distant star thing. First, the ‘red shift.’ Is it possible that one spectrum of light, red in this case, carries further over vast distances than another wavelength? After all, we know that space is not empty, so is it possible some wavelengths are absorbed by dust and debris? What of ‘dark matter’ and ‘dark energy’ if they exist, could some light be absorbed or changed there?

    Also, is this very distant galaxy a phenomenon to be seen only in one direction, or do we see it in all directions in equal amounts? If so, are we at the center of the universe? If so, does it make any sense that something that existed billions of years ago and was therefore much closer to us, would have required this long for the light to reach us. Im wondering, if it is on the very edge of the universe now, would it not have always been there? My thinking is, that light and objects from an incredible time in the past, should have been much closer to us, whereas we would not yet be able to see anything at the edge of the universe now, because of the distance from us is so great that there would have been nothing to see. Perhaps I’m not being clear but, I have a difficult time understanding how early and immature stars/galaxies could be so far away that it takes so long for their light to reach us, yet at the time they were created, they shouldn’t have been that far from us. Okay, I’m done – my head is starting to hurt.

    • Is it possible that one spectrum of light, red in this case, carries further over vast distances than another wavelength?
      Observations show that it does not possible. The spectrum of the galaxy has several spectral lines at several different wavelengths [colors] and they are observed to be shifted by the same amount no matter what the color is.

    • the concept is that ( well you have to first forget about the expanding balloon )
      What they are saying is that all that there is was the same just smaller, so it is what it is but it is more squished and as we are part of the squished stuff what we see today is the same as we would see billions of years ago just less squished. and forget about the “edge of the universe”

      • intuitively I’m not a fan of big bang. if what we are able to see is everything that there is ( meaning all in the same 3d space that never ends) perhaps there are big bangs happening everywhere, over there, over here

  13. Couple of points to make. Red shift returns completely different values for quasars connected to each other.

    NASA published an image showing no visible connection between quasars, but when the image was rendered as a negative the connection was clearly visible.

    The fact the scientific community ignored this is astounding!

    The only way we actually have to measure distance is a parallax and that is dictated by the farthest satellite from earth we can use. Currently 300 light years is the best we can do on that.

    This “record” is nothing but garbage.

    So for me NASA and Astrophysicists of a theoretical nature need to explain how two quasars can be connected and yet have massively different red shifts.

    I won’t hold my breath

    • And no that has not been debunked, all NASA have as “evidence” is “belief” and a picture that was intentionally misleading and outright dishonest

      • So, Mark, would it be safe to say that, in your view, one day the “big bang theory” will be viewed by scientists as we currently view the Ptolemaic system (a brilliant yet flawed description of reality).

    • Mark,

      Please provide instances of these alleged connections by posting the supposed negative images.


    • Well Mark, I will presume, that you know far more about this than I do, because I know not much about cosmology.

      But, my mind tried to envisage the ‘quasar’ situation you just alluded to, which I probably have seen mentioned before, but not thought much about.

      So I take it that we have two quasars. By some distance measuring means not reliant on red shift theory, it is asserted that these two quasars are at basically the same distance, and in roughly the same solid angular position in space; ergo we deduce they might be close enough to each other two interact.

      But by red shift assumptions, of distance we would declare that they cannot be at the same distance.

      So what of the following possibility; simply a WAG on my part.

      Suppose these two quasars are in fact at the same radial distance from us; and suppose further they are gravitationally attached to each other, and are in fact rotating about each other in the plane containing the earth. So one is receding from us, and the other is approaching us, as referenced in the co-ordinate system of their CM, and their rotational velocity is so great, that they do in fact have different red shifts, based on radial velocity, but not on radial distance.

      Now we have just ‘ seen ‘ two black holes rotate around each other to oblivion, and signal us their distress call, gravitationally (via Einstein waves) , so it is not inconceivable to me (being clueless), that two interacting galaxies can actually have quite distinct red shifts due to having quite distinct radial velocities for the very reason that they ARE gravitationally linked, and rapidly rotating in a plane edge on to earth.

      But then what the hell do I know.

      If you mention this to anyone; please don’t say I suggested it, because I am just turning wheels in my head, and I am often quite wrong about stuff; particularly stuff I don’t know.


      • There are two sorts of red shift (doppler and cosmological). Differing red shifts in gravitationally bound galaxies is due to doppler shifts. Only cosmological red shift estimates are employed to estimate cosmological distances. Interestingly Edward Hubble rejected the use of “red shift” as a distance measure. All of the red shifts he measured were within the “local group” and as such were made among gravitationally bound galaxies; that red shift thus could not be cosmological red shift. An entertaining debate about cosmological red shift has to do with the conservation of energy. There is no satisfactory explanation for the where the energy lost as a photon undergoes cosmological red shift goes that all members of the cosmological theory and astronomical communities accept.

    • Mark wrote (March 7, 2016 at 8:52 am): “NASA published an image showing no visible connection between quasars, but when the image was rendered as a negative the connection was clearly visible.”

      Mark, are you referring to the “physical connection between the barred spiral galaxy NGC 4319 and the quasar like object Markarian 205”, quoted from the “electric universe” site linked below?

      Or do you mean something else?

      • The connection between Quasars and nearby galaxies is extremely interesting. It is also interesting to notice that there are several mechanisms that could move the whole spectrum of an object towards the red other than doppler redshift or expansion of space.

        Arps view also easily fixes one of the problems with the view of quasars … the extreme brightness of a high red shift quasar. A quasar is extremel bright only if it is assumed to be extremely remote as determined by the redshift. If the redshift can be explained by another mechanism then the quasar can be fairly close despite the redshift which makes the quasar an ordinary stellar object.

        As a physicist I think many kinds of singularities tell more about our inabilities to describe things mathematically than actually describing reality. If the power output of a quasar is calculated to correspond to many galaxies and we don’t see traces of similar objects near by our first question should probably be to question our theory.

  14. I find most disquieting the incredible shrinkage in our perceived modeled time between the events of the Big Bang and the formation of the first galaxies. It makes me consider at least one of those two ages is off by more than a few percent. Or that in the very early universe time is different from what we think today.

    Every reference-body (co-ordinate system) has its own particular time; unless we are told the reference-body to which the statement of time refers, there is no meaning in a statement of the time of an event.
    — Albert Einstein, Relativity: The Special and General Theory (1920)

    Time is an illusion, lunchtime doubly so.
    — Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (said by Ford Prefect)
    (both from Wikiquote: Time

  15. Please explain to me what happened (or existed) before the “Big Bang” and where did all the matter now in the Universe we know (never mind the Universe we don’t know) come from if the “Big Bang” was just pea shaped? Fancy if we could find out and create any amount of material from a pea shape at will. So if this now famous GN-z11 is exactly (near enough) 13.4 billion light years away from us, then we must be the center of the Universe and then there must be some merit in finding another galaxy 13.4 billion light years at the other end of the Universe (Leif Svalgaard’s idea above). So what is beyond the 13.4 light years from where I sit? Must be nothing according to the “Big Bang” theory. One of the “unknown unknowns”. Sorry to be so stupid that I can’t understand the intricacies of all this.

      • Thank you for this link GM, great read. Spellbinding stuff to me.
        Least this area of science seems somewhat untainted by politics – I relish that.

      • You’re welcome. While speculative, at least constrained by actual scientific observation and application of laws.

    • I’ve always wondered the same thing bout the Big Bang.

      Since E= mc^2 and the mass of the universe (I guess this must include dark matter as well) is beyond gigantic, this suggests that “E” must have been way, way beyond beyond beyond…..gigantic.

      Non-existent things do not just explode; there had to be something (particles? black holes? galaxies? etc) that, for whatever reason exploded (expanded?).

      Of course, this suggests just two things: the universe (universes ) have always existed, just in different forms, places, etc.
      Or some “intelligent” being was somehow involved.

      I am NOT suggesting that any of these possibilities is the “right” one or more “right” than the other. . But I have to admit, when astronomers/physicists tell us that the Big Bang just happened out of nothing, out of a “vacuum” of space, well, I find it hard to get my head around that.

      Just confining the above to the Milky Way is mind-bending enough; but considering the existence of billions of galaxies, well, it’s enough to make my head explode.

      Any thoughts?

      • You were right to say expansion, not explosion. And the event was indeed highly energetic.

        Greatly to simplify, the Big Bang usually refers to the early, hot, dense state of the universe, shortly after its initial expansion from the singularity. This was followed within a tiny fraction of a second by a phase of exponential inflation, then continued expansion and cooling, leading to the formation of matter. Later, expansion appears to have accelerated.

      • John Peter and JohnTyler, let me quote from Dr. Lawrence M. Krauss’s book, A Universe from Nothing:

        “We have discovered that all signs suggest a universe that could and plausibly did arise from a deeper nothing–involving the absence of space itself–and which may one day return to nothing…”

        Yeah, I don’t understand it either, and I read the book cover to cover. :-)

        Krause is an entertaining speaker; you might get something out of one of his talks:

        BTW, the book explains quite clearly why we are the “center” of our particular “universe”, and every other galaxy we can see is the “center” of its own “universe”.

      • The big bang was just the bottom end of the 1/f noise spectrum.

        It may be huge; but it just doesn’t happen very often.

        So on average it is no big deal. Just as tropical storm Sandy was no big deal on average.

        It only got messy if you cherry pick the data when it got near the USA. Rest of its life was just ho hum.


      • Well suppose c was effectively zero at the time of the big bang in terms of the then value of the meter. Then mc^2 could be zero no matter how big m was.

        Ergo, the energy might have been zero at the time of that little big bang. But I’m not suggesting that; simply responding to your any thoughts ??


  16. Judging by the field of view of Hubble, and considering the energy output of a double black hole collision, and the frequency of their occurrence (about 200 in the time it took me to write this comment), once would think that a 200 ms pulse of spectroscopical evidence or artifact of the event that causes gravity waves would be recorded.

    So where are they?

    • A related topic is discussed here:
      [Fermi detected the (gamma ray) burst just 0.4 seconds after LIGO detected gravitational waves, and from the same general area of the sky. However, the European INTEGRAL gamma-ray satellite did not confirm the signal.
      “Even if the Fermi detection is a false alarm, future LIGO events should be monitored for accompanying light irrespective of whether they originate from black hole mergers. Nature can always surprise us,” says Loeb.]

    • @Paul:
      Black hole mergers are not expected to have much (if any) observable energy output outside of the gravitational waves they emit. Any such would have to come from the debris orbiting that system, and merging black holes aren’t expected to have very much left thanks to the orbital dynamics involved. This is partly why the paper which came out positing a possible related gamma ray burst (GRB) event in the same-ish direction as the much-publicized gravitational waves seen by LIGO was met with great skepticism in much of the astronomical community.

      Also, we have very little idea how frequent such mergers may be, other than an educated (i.e. derived via playing with the variables in theoretical math) guess with wide error bars (an order of magnitude on either side). However, when that guess is combined with the Hubble’s relatively limited field of view (measured in arc seconds, not degrees), we actually wouldn’t statistically expect to have seen ANY such events using Hubble, even if ALL of them were accompanied by visible light bursts.

      That last is one of the biggest issues facing modern astronomy: we have extraordinary ability to peer at tiny pieces of the sky in high resolution, and we can survey huge swathes of the sky in wide frequency bands at very low resolution, but we cannot (yet) do both high-res AND wide field. As a result many one-off events we might otherwise expect to happen fairly regularly remain unobserved &/or poorly understood (GRBs & FRBs among them).

      • Well Smokey, it would seem that your wish is their command.
        Just when you wanted to wish for a Hubble telescope that could see all 4 pi steradians of deep space at the same time, along comes LIGO and says.

        You can have any kind of black hole collision you like, anywhere in space, and our 4pi Einstein wave telescopes will likely be able to see it.

        Other such events, maybe with neutron stars, may be coming up for detection soon.

        Bring more money for a bigger LIGO, or more of them. And buy them some more computer chips too.


        If I was a Higgs Bosoneer, I would be buying some new clothes, and looking for a job as a LIGO mechanic.

        Seems like a much more likely field of endeavor for finding ” new stuff ” if you ask me.

        But don’t ask me !


      • I should add a comment about the death of two black holes, which expression I used up there. Well that is only a death as two separate entities. The two collide from mutual gravitational attraction (gravity sucks), and eventually coalesce into one bigger black hole. I think of it as like throwing two chunks of jello at each other so they collide, and go splat, into one shaky quivering blob; which blob then shakes itself into a smooth stable non shaky mass; which process, the paper describes as a “Ring Down”.

        And that’s a good way to put it.

        If you bash on a gong or a bell, it will rattle and make a sound, but it will slowly ring down and lose your bash energy as acoustic waves that dissipate, and for our surviving black hole that ring down is emitting “Einstein Waves” until all the shaking stops.

        So pretty much all of the matter is still there in the one black hole; it doesn’t really die.

        I think the original paper (what a paper) explains pretty well for even a lay reader such as me, just what they believe happened, and their search method is clever, in that it gives the very best signal to noise ratio, only for the very event they postulated might happen from purely mathematical computations from Einstein’s theory. And the closer they guessed to the correct event, the closer the recovered match filtered signal will look like a delayed replica of the very signal they calculated from purely theoretical arguments.

        At some point in the future, maybe it will be generally accepted that “my” frivolous “Einstein Waves” are actually “Gravitational Waves”. At the moment, I can’t think what else they could be; but then what the hell do I know. All I know (passes my smell test) they DID find a signal that quite closely looks like a replica of what they calculated they ought to detect.

        Totally fascinating. Compared to that, Higgs is just so ho hum yesterday .


    • Paul, Given the theoretical signal for that particular pair of spiraling/colliding/coalescing black holes, as transmitted by Einstein waves, I can imagine an oscilloscope plot of that extracted signal on a modern digital sampling oscilloscope, which has bandwidth to burn compared to the expected signal.
      So even though in the real analog world that event was detected by a couple of pairs of massive glass slabs, in two distinct locations, it was in fact promptly engraved in stone, or at least on silicon or magnetic disk or some such. So in fact there exists (I presume) a digitized version from each Interferometer site of what the Einstein wave detectors said they got.

      Now these chaps said that they used ” matched filters ” to maximize the S/N ratio for that event.

      Now that is impossible, in real time, because a matched filter is a ” guesser circuit ” and it has to process the signal backwards; a case of last out first in LOFI, as distinct from FIFO.

      And the matched filter for this signal has to have an impulse response, that is identical to the bass ackwards expected signal, which they calculated for two black holes of specific solar masses (look up the paper for the masses they gave).

      Well the key statement in their paper was that they ” used matched FILTER…S ”

      That big S is the key. They don’t mean one in Alabama, and one in Washington.

      They mean “We can calculate the required matched filter for any black hole masses in collision Einstein wave signal, for a whole slew of possible masses and collision vectors.

      So with a near infinity of computing power, those guys could calculate the required matched filter for any such even that might come along; well for a hole set of them, with various parameters, and then with that slew of processing power, they can run their recorded digitized signal through every one of those calculated matched filters.

      And they will all generate some output signal, but only the signal that is a replicate of the calculated Einstein wave signal, will be the real signal, for which the matched filter was correct.

      So that has to be how they knew what the black hole masses and trajectory were, because only the matched filter calculated for that specific calculated theoretical signal, will yield a delayed replica of the expected signal, as its output. All the other filters will output a corrupted output that is NOT a delayed replica of the theoretical signal for which that particular filter was computed.

      I’m beginning to see, how you can chew up a thousand authors on an enterprise like what they just did. A lot of people must have been doing a whole lot of ‘ what if ‘ computations, to get ready for a hardware S/N ratio that was high enough to respond to Einstein waves.

      So it really wasn’t any crap shoot that they found the signal they were looking for. They must have fed that data to a whole lot of candidate signal filters, and found the one where their piece fitted into the hole almost perfectly.

      A signal like they got is far too complicated for me to do the matched filter computation, although there was a time, when I probably could have done that; but if you don’t use it, you lose it. In any case it would be nigh on impossible to build a matched filter for that in hardware.


      • Thank-you George. If I understand your terrific and amusing description properly, the ONLY signal they would detect is the modeled Einstein wave. If that is the case then too bad. I would suspect that if the masses were different and the massive bodies had more elliptical mutual orbits etc then the waveform of the pulse would be different and invisible, post filtering. More to the point of this thread, I am surprised that there would not be a broader spectrum event coincident with the event nevertheless.

      • Well Paul, you’ve almost got it, but you are missing the crux of the whole thing.

        They have the raw signal corralled and digitized. It is now there for all time.

        They can compute the theoretical Einstein wave signal, for ANY conjectured event.

        Two black holes of 10 solar masses approaching each other on parallel paths at one earth orbital radius spacing to get some angular momentum going or maybe one light year spacing. whatever.

        Or 10 solar masses approaching 30 solar masses.

        Any imaginable possible event, in this case comprising two black holes in a spiraling collision; they can calculate from Einstein’s theory, exactly what the death of such an event might be, and deduce the Einstein wave signal. Then they compute the matched filter for that signal, and the filters for a whole bunch of possible signals.

        Then they run the recorded digitized event through all of those filters, and they likely will get an output signal from all of those filters for the signal they have captured.

        BUT there is only one filter that will yield an output response that is simply a time delayed replica of the particular theoretical Einstein Wave for which they calculated and implemented that particular filter. And that one filter was calculated for one particular postulated possible event, so that gives them the parameters for the particular event they corralled with their LIGOs.

        The calculated signal was a bit esoteric; being a frequency chirped damped sinusoidal carrier pulse, lasting for the duration of the demise of the two objects, so the mathematical expression for the nature of such a filter as to have the impulse response of that signal exactly backwards in time, is somewhat fearsome I presume, but they have plenty of capability of doing that.

        Almost anything is doable arithmetically in software, even if physically unrealizable in terms of say lumped circuit element real time hardware.

        Now for time symmetrical signals: f(t) = f(t0-t) the time reversed signal is exactly the same as the signal, so you can do a hardware real time matched filter for such a signal since it is not aware that you are not running it backwards, so it doesn’t have to be a “guesser circuit”, the output signal is just a delayed signal.

        So for example for a radar looking for say a 1 microsecond rectangular pulse on 500 MHz carrier, the signal is time symmetric, and a very simple lumped circuit matched filter can be built for such a signal, either at the RF end, or at the video pulse end, after envelope detection.

        So these guys probably have a whole library of matched filter designs, for any imaginable BH-BH event, and in the end I suspect for some neutron star events or hybrids, and so next time they get a corralled and digitized signal that says their mirrors got rattled at both locations at around the same time, they can just run it through all of their filter library, until they get an output signal that is a replica of the theoretical match to that filter.

        Now I suspect that they are also savvy enough, that if they get an output that looks close; but no cigar, for some particular filter, they probably have some iteration algorithm that might tell them, you need to change the mass ratio of the masses, or the intercept orbit of this thing, and redo the filter to get a closer fit. And the closer they get to fitting the shape, the better their signal to noise ratio should get.

        I think the whole damn thing is so bloody clever. The thing is it has to be an amazing corroboration of Einstein’s general relativity, and the more of these things they detect, the more they can place confidence in that whole theory.

        I can imagine why Dr. Svalgaard and his cohorts think they have a whole new tool to play with. It boggles my mind, and I don’t even understand it.


  17. “Hubble telescope sees 13.4 billion years into the past”

    Imagine the length of the shaft on that Hockey Stick.

  18. Less than 100 years ago, mankind believed that the Milky Way was the whole universe. We were just becoming aware that other galaxies existed at great distance.

  19. One day, perhaps. In the meantime, assumptions of uniformity, composition, and dynamics will have to stand.

    • assumptions of uniformity, composition, and dynamics will have to stand
      measurements of uniformity, composition, and dynamics will have to stand

      • Izzere really any physicists doing more MEASUREMENTS than astronomers are doing these days ??

        Off hand I can’t think of too many fields where so much stuff seems to be happening.

        I wouldn’t mind being a fly on the wall near the coffee pot of one of these research groups. Gotta be some fun and games. Mostly over my head though.


  20. Perhaps the universe is not flat and open but closed and we are seeing our Milky Way 13.4 billion years ago which is close to the estimated time of its birth.

    • Jim G1

      In that case, as Ricky used to say to Lucy, “you got some ‘splaining to do”…

      You need to overcome the considerable amount of actual experimental data collected that demonstrates space is flat.

  21. A friend quipped that this is nearly old enough to image the “big cigarette that followed the big bang.”

  22. One question regarding galaxy formation is “what came first? The galaxy or the black hole in the center?” At the moment, most think that the black hole came first. This object doesn’t seem to shed light on that question, but others might.

    • Black holes are formed by gravitational collapse of matter, so the matter must have come first. There is a good chance that dark matter help form galaxies amplifying the effect of gravity in the accretion process.

      • ” Black holes are formed by gravitational collapse of matter, so the matter must have come first.”
        Does it squeeze the space out of atoms, or does it crush space’s x,y,&z dimension?
        An expansion of our x,y&z could be the source of inflation, a singularity crushes space, just as string theory says all the extra dimensions are collapsed now.

      • Leif,

        I seem to have a very dim memory of some theoretical derivation by Sir James Jeans of a limiting value for the total mass, or maybe it is a density thing, for a uniform cloud of matter; presumably hydrogen, wherein he proved that above some limit, the whole thing must become unstable and break up and collapse into disjointed disparate parts, ie. galaxies and stars.

        Pretty much what some primordial cloud of gas may have done.

        Am I misremembering, or is there such a Jeans theorem ??


      • Thanks Leif. Avery readable expose, and makes me happy that I am not going mad quite yet. It is now in my favorites file.


  23. You do have to wonder at the wonder of it and wonder how we could have politicians in today’s world (some even possibly make it to the most powerful position on the planet) who would say this is all bunkum because the world is only 6000 years old(or is it 3000?). Although there is one (who could well win the nomination) who would have you believe he created the universe.

    • @Simon:
      Oddly, that calculation was first made mainstream by St. Augustine of Roman Catholic Church fame (his loathing of the idea of centering the church in Rome notwithstanding, but I digress). To continue the “math,” one would have to guess the current “age” to be between 5ka – 6ka, but that’s only if 1) one accepts the good clergyman’s word on the subject, AND 2) one ignores the Bible’s own text which strongly discourages using genealogies for that (or any other) kind of calculation. . . the very things which Augustine used to figure his figures.

      In other words, another classic case of an assumed valid starting point leading to a bad conclusion.

      • Smokey – where does the Bible say to not use genealogies for calculations of the time since the creation?

      • @TheLastDemocrat:
        An apt question, and one that deserves an in-depth response. My intent in so doing is not to start a religious discussion (I seek not to change anyone’s world view, I promise), but rather to look at the evidence logically & rationally to show why St. Augustine, et al., are mistaken in their very starting point, let alone their conclusion.

        As I’m sure you knew when you commented, there is no, e.g., 13th Commandment which states “Thou shalt not use genealogies to figure the age of My Creation!” ^_^ However there are passages in the New Testament which much more generally insist that for purposes beyond demonstrating the lineage of the messiah himself, genealogies are not something one need worry about in detail. For example; Titus 3:9 states “But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless.” (ESV)

        In addition, a student of biblical text will quickly note that there are some clear differences between (e.g.) the genealogy of Christ as reported by Matthew and the same genealogy as reported by Luke. Regardless of the explanations for those differences (and there are a number — NOT an attack on Christians here), that in itself should indicate that the idea of dating the universe using biblical genealogy is an exercise in gross approximation at best, and a fool’s errand at worst.

        Further, accepting the story of the Garden of Eden on its face (should we? NO COMMENT!), there is no reference given for how long Adam & Eve stayed there before the Fall took place. (For those pointing vehemently at Gen 5:5, it is understood by most scholars I’m aware of that the counting of years of age did not start until after the Fall & expulsion from Eden — the point at which Adam was cut off from the Tree of Life, the point at which the very term “age” became meaningful, since he was effectively immortal prior to that point.) Thus, even if one COULD rely on genealogy to get back to Adam (we’ve already shown we cannot), one still has no clear idea of how long Adam had been around at the time of the Fall, and thus no idea how old the Earth might actually be.

        And finally, the Genesis creation story itself is pretty clear that it deals with beginning of the Earth alone (or at the very most its attendant solar system) and not the beginning of the universe as a whole. Genesis 1:2 suggests that the Earth, though “formless & void” at that point, nevertheless existed. Needless to say, there is no mention of how long it existed in that condition, and thus no way at all to guess the age of the cosmos in which it travels.

        Bottom line: Unless one starts making things up out of whole cloth (a popular pastime with many of the religiously minded, I am aware), there really is no way to use Bible (hi)stories to date creation. Thus even a believer in the literal text of those scriptures cannot be confident of an Earth aged less than ten thousand years, let alone a similarly-young cosmos. However, it ALSO means that a believer in Judeo-Christian scriptures CAN accept that the Earth may be much older than, e.g., 6,000 years; Science & Scripture are not, in this area, mutually exclusive (whether or not you may believe they are in others).

        Emotionally charged as this topic tends to become, I will let this contribution to the discussion be my last.

  24. So if you can take a picture of something 13.4 billion light years away, where is it now? Did it recede even further away? And being that there is a variety of objects that are closer at all different time intervals, the light would smear if we went every tenth of a billion years. Closer though the idea of landmarks, distance and expanding space, some stars that are in close proximity to this solar system should show a blue shift. Hunters use a technique of running at an angle to get closer to their prey without spooking them. Whether space is expanding or not, the actual distance decreases at times. That would indicate that space is not expanding faster than the speed of light. There would be no order of magnitudes. Additionally, everything would have to expand at exactly the very same instance that everything else does, at exactly the same proportions. The size of some atoms would be larger than others? Gravity wouldn’t exist. There would be no consistency in wavelengths of any part of the electromagnetic spectrumn. If space were expanding, x rays would degrade into a lower frequency from being strecthed. Everything would become one long wave

    If we were traveling towards an object that was stationary at the speed of light and fixed our gaze upon it, during the light year we would see it change fast foward. If it was receding away, events would unfold in slow motion, and moving towards us, it would appear to outrun the speed of light ( maybe it does). . On second thought, I don’t know what we’d be seeing relative to time. I was thinking of predictably and un predictably.

    • So if you can take a picture of something 13.4 billion light years away, where is it now?
      Since space has expanded during the 13.4 billion years, the galaxy is ‘now’ much further away, some 30 billion light years. But the concept of ‘now’ is not well-defined.

      • I’m following the thought process here that space is expanding so the galaxies are relatively non moving. Ok, then what is the explanation for stars orbiting inside the galaxy. What is moving? If the galaxies are stationary, and we can calculate the distances away, then we can also calculate the difference individual stars are moving. The difference in the red shift would tell us how fast the universe is expanding. That still doesn’t explain why we don’t see a blue shift. That would also indicate that there is a make and break point in a galaxy. Stars that are still orbiting but moving away from each other are in the break area, and stars that are orbiting around the center which are being drawn in are not expanding away. For this idea of a red shift to be correct there has to be a blue shift somewhere. Or the universe could be a lot stranger than we can imagine. If space is expanding, everything would be the same. We wouldn’t be able to tell. If matter didn’t expand along with it in space, it would become infinitely small. For example, a meter stick, is still a meter, no matter what the space could be. It’s like the ruler for measuring fish. I caught a meter long fish, but in the real world it is only 20cm. The universe at this order of magnitudes has to be ordered and not choatic. Time would not have an arrow. There would be discontinuity in time. Events would start and jump to some other event randomly.

      • Gravity is keeping the stars where they are, just like it does for planets in the solar system.
        The expansion of space is no weak compared to the forces that work on the scale of a galaxy, a star, a planet, a human being, that it is completely negligible. I cannot blame my expanding girth on the expansion of the universe.

      • The planets are moving relative to one another. The sun is moving in an orbit around the galaxy, and all the planets are following the sun. It is not logical that there are no blue shifts. Stars are moving and orbiting the galaxy like the planets. Stars closer to the center have to be approach, line up, and pass our solar system. And stars that orbit each other in elliptical orbits have to show a blue and red shifts. We should be able to see that.
        This solar sytem orbits every 250 million years. With thousands of stairs at least one must be approaching with an orbit of 200 million years.
        Also, we can take pictures of galaxies in frames, from one year to the next, and one decade to the next. If the space is expanding, then we would see that in the pictures. The same picture would not fit in the same frame.

      • Lots of stars show blue-shift. E.g. Sirius: “Sirius is gradually moving closer to the Solar System, so it will slightly increase in brightness over the next 60,000 years”

      • Ok so there is blue shift that we can measure. So, if that’s true and at the same time space is expanding, then is that movement, or all movement, creating a wave . Rather than being a nice ordered structure with 3 d lines that determine the location of objects, it’s a weird jumble of lines that are stretched and pulled. It would indicate that space is not expanding equally everywhere. For example, a trip to Mars, knowing where the space lines are pinched traveling there might not be the smooth trajectory of a curve, but sudden angle turns. A trip to anywhere could be real short. This is really great ideas. I had always thought that if in a ship you get to going really fast, you’d have to know where everything is in your path. You have a bad day if you ran into a rock. Then thereal is the exact angle and the pixel at some place far out. If you are off even a little at very high speeds you could end up in something. Then there is the ever present problem, how do you stop this thing. Traveling along pinched lines solves all those problems.. in this new universe, I don’t know what distance is if it’s being pulled like taffy. And if time is related to distanced traveled, time gets strange as well.

      • If the space is expanding, then we would see that in the pictures.
        No, because gravity that keeps the stars in their orbit is MUCH stronger than the expansion.

      • @rishrac:

        You aren’t crazy in thinking that there should be plenty of objects moving toward us rather than away: there certainly are. Even at inter-galactic distances, there are objects that are overall blue-shifted. These objects are, however, quite rare, and mainly confined to the Local Group and Virgo Cluster, as lsvalgaard indicated.

        In fact, the best that most objects outside of our own Local Group can do is to be “less red shifted” than their own parent galaxies/clusters due to their peculiar motion in our direction; that object as a whole is still being dragged away by the expansion of space more than fast enough to counter its peculiar motion and render the light red shifted overall. For the vast majority of extra-galactic objects that effect shifts light significantly to the red, with increasing distance highly correlated with an increasing red shift.

      • I do realize that all the data is red shifted. And that some is less than red shifted than others. I can’t work this out without distortion in the actual distances between objects and the frequency shift. If space is expanding then so is the meter stick in relation distance. Space would be expanding at certain magnitudes of order but not in others. Which is curious. Perhaps there is a way of using this in space travel. If everything in the universe is moving away from each other, colliding stars, black holes, merging galaxies, asteroids that hit the earth, couldn’t or shouldn’t happen. If you were on a sun that was merging with another, the physical reality is that they are getting closer, but still a red shift? I’ve thought of a few experiments. The phase shift of light from here to the moon. We have mirrors there. We can calculate the actual distance during its closet approach with when it moves to its furthest. I suppose that I’m thinking that the phase shift in light is not linear with distance, but a proportionality or an inverse function. If there are distortions between light and space, then it would be possible to ride a distortion faster than the speed of light. Because matter didn’t change. How much faster? It opens up a whole new box. Then does time exist there. So how fast is fast, if there is no element of time? We wouldn’t need to build a ship that would be huge for space travel. We could jump from place to place in a smaller version.

      • You wouldn’t know your girth was expanding because the rest of you would be expanding as well. Unless we are in some circus with funny mirrors. Since I can’t get the universe in an ordered mirror, it has to be a circus. I always remember how Morgan Lefay trapped Merlin, in his own reflection.

    • @rishrac
      Imagine floating in space, the universe is still ionized plasma, but right before it clears.
      Iirc the universe is about 380,000 light years old. There is no outside.
      Now you’re floating someplace in a hot bright let’s call it a fog.the fog has spectral lines. Lets say over the entire universe clears of fog at once. What you’d see is a wall of light receding in all directions, in a year, that wall would be 1 light year away in all directions. You are in the middle of a clear bubble that’s 2 light years in diameter. In 13.6 B light years, it’s a 27 some B lt years across. But, our spectral lines have a sigma of 1, no shifting al all.
      So let’s go back, and say once the universe clears, it also expands, and by now the light from the receding light fog is stretched 1,100 some odd times.This wall is the cmb, we can see no light futher.
      But to me it’s clear there is a much larger universe beyond the observable universe, this is a continuation of this universe.
      But this not accounting for what’s beyond our universe , there could be any number of other bubbles of something like space time, or not, we just don’t know.
      But string theory says there could be an astronomical number of these other dimension universes.

      • micro6500

        “…But string theory says there could be an astronomical number of these other dimension universes….”

        Yea, and there could be an Easter Bunny.

        Lots of people can’t wait for string theorists to start predicting falsifiable stuff with their crazy voodoo.

      • In my inner most thoughts, I don’t think space is expanding at all. I think it is something we, as a species, have a hard time with…. infinity. There is not an astronomical number of other dimensions, but an infinite number. And quite possible, each is infinite in size. We like to put things in a jar and that is all the space there is. Well, what’s on the outside of the jar?

  25. That was with the Hubble. Imagine what we might see when the James Webb space telescope is launched in October 2018. Very exciting.

  26. After Hubble they will see 15billion, then 20 billion, then 25 billion…
    The universe is infinite in time and space, no start, no end.
    Then what.

    • @bobd06:
      As it stands, the CMB stands about 300ka after the (presumed) inflation of the universe, and represents the “surface of light” beyond which we cannot probe using EM radiation, no matter how good our telescopes get. The CMB is nothing more or less than the after-glow of the era when spacetime & everything in it had cooled to the point of becoming transparent to EM radiation. Thus, if we ever end up seeing something that’s more than ~13.6 billion light-years away, that will equate to seeing some thing that is greater than ~13.6ga old.

      In other words, we’ll know our current cosmology requires a SIGNIFICANT re-write! (Not that there’s anything wrong with that. ^_^)

    • … and while the expansion speed was greater than c all possible light was pulled away from ‘us’. Exactly at c our ‘view’ started to grow at c. And that was about 13.+ billion years ago and happened all over the place. So after say, 1by we would be able to ‘see’ objects 1b light years away when they would have been able to emit photons back then (what they didn’t). Right now our ‘view’ still expands at exactly c in all directions like it ever has since it started.

      I think the expansion of space slowed down in a damped vibration and we are now on the first rising branch (unless someone has measured more swings).

    • Chip Javert on March 7, 2016 at 8:35 pm

      Where/how do you see “curvature of space increasing”?

      Chip Javert,

      Thought experiment. There is a principle of equivalence between a ‘gravitating’ mass curving space and an ‘acceleration’ (change of speed or change of direction) curving space, so I am wondering if there is equivalency between an expanding universe hypothesis and an hypothesis of change in space curvature.


  27. I must be pretty dense. Light travels at a fixed speed, right? So, how does having a special receptor, lens, IC, or whatever, increase the speed of light received by the receptor?

    If I put a camera, a telescope, and an electronic device at the same distance from a given point, how can one receive the light faster than the one next to it? Won’t they all be receiving the same light at the same time?

    I just don’t understand why one can see farther back in time than the other. They are all receiving the exact same input with different resolutions, aren’t they?

    • @jr72023:
      Not dense, just confusing your terms. ^_^

      An object one light-year away emits light which travels at the same speed as that from an object two light-years away. however, as the units imply, the light from the first object only takes a year to arrive while the light from the second object takes two years to arrive. This means that the light we see from the first object gives us information about how that object looked a year ago (rather than just now, or a few minutes ago, etc.), while the light from the second object tells us how THAT one looked two years ago.

      Now extend this to objects (like this newly-discovered galaxy) which are 13.4 billion light years away. Since it takes all that time for the light to get here, the image shows how that object appeared some 13.4 billion years ago, rather than showing how it looks today. Thus, the farther away these objects are, the further back in time we’re looking in terms of the universe as a whole.

    • They all capture em waves of the correct wavelength of the detector.
      But since light has a finite velocity, it takes time to travel long distances.
      To travel 2.2 (iirc) million light years, the light has to leave 2.2 million years ago.

      This is M31 the Andromeda galaxy I took with a dslr and a small telescope in my driveway.when this light left M31, it was 2.2 million years ago here.
      And yes, it’s moved since then.

  28. I think people need to understand the distinction between Doppler red and blue shifts having to do with local movement within space and cosmological red shifts which have to do with the expansion of space itself.

  29. I hope the fellow who announced this was wearing a shirt that wouldn’t be objectionable to feminists.

  30. Thanks WUWT and all for a great cerebral calisthenic workout! I’m still suspicious of the constancy of time… after all, the shortest distance between two points is when they are in the same place, i.e. t=0. And what would that do to the colour of light? or the frequency of a photon?

  31. I was taught in school that, if you test an hypothesis and get ridiculous results, then there is something wrong with your hypothesis.

    The current consensus is that:
    1. The greater the red shift, the faster a celestial object is moving away from us, and the farther away from us it is
    2. A Big Bang occurred about 13.8 Billion years ago
    3. Nothing in the universe can go faster than the speed of light.

    This new galaxy was found at 13.4 Billion years in the past. But, since the universe only started 400 Billion years before that, then this new galaxy got to its present location from wherever the Big Bang occurred in 400 Billion years. To achieve this great feat, it had to travel 13.4 / 0.4 = 33.5 times the speed of light.
    Of course current theory says that the speed it is moving away gets bigger the farther away it is, so it could be traveling away today (13.4 Billion years ago) at perhaps 50 times the speed of light.
    It would seem to me that at least part of the consensus is wrong. Even if an object could travel as fast as the speed of light, then the farthest we possibly could see is halfway to the beginning of time – it would take the other half for the light to have reached us.

    • What is wrong is that you assume the galaxies are moving:
      3. Nothing in the universe can go faster than the speed of light.
      They are not. Space is expanding, and that is both predicted and allowed by General Relativity. There is no speed limit on the expansion.

      • Leif – Not that I’m an expert (by any means), but that’s a new one for me. So you’re saying that space, and the objects occupying that space, are totally unrelated concepts? Objects which were at the edge of space today, and again at the edge of space tomorrow, may not have moved at all, even though they may be 50 days at light speed farther away from us? This goes back to my “ridiculous results” comment. If you want to use what may be a useful construct to study the universe, you’re welcome to do so – I’ll continue to think of it as wheels within wheels.

        Micro – Are you suggesting that the Big Bang, rather than occurring from an infinitesimally small singularity, took place from a “point” that was 13.8 (or 27.6?) light years apart? If not, then how did they get (instantaneously) to where they are?

      • that space, and the objects occupying that space, are totally unrelated concepts?
        Your question is incomplete. Massive objects curve or warp the space around them so there is a relation, but ‘space’ is akin to the surface of the Earth and objects are akin to, e.g., cities on that surface. Space expands and the distances between galaxies thus increases, but the galaxies do not move through space, they basically sit still and are just along for the ‘ride’.

      • Micro – Are you suggesting that the Big Bang, rather than occurring from an infinitesimally small singularity, took place from a “point” that was 13.8 (or 27.6?) light years apart? If not, then how did they get (instantaneously) to where they are?

        We are inside the singularity that became our spacetime, All of the universe, even the parts outside our light cone is inside that point.

    • then this new galaxy got to its present location from wherever the Big Bang occurred in 400 Billion years.

      The Galaxy formed where it is, it did not move at all.
      The CMB is the receding light that came from the entire Universe when the early ionized plasma switched from glowing to not glowing, the light switch turned off. We see the edge of that light in the far far distance.

  32. The one law of the universe we do know is that energy can not be created or destroyed, it is interchangeable in many forms. One form is presure, presure differences in gravity on a glactic scale caused by space itself produce gravitational eddies, these eddies collapse into blackholes and become a spherical, concentrated form of energy, this energy is released when another gravitational blackhole ‘eddie’ forms and comes into contact with another one, as two blackholes begin to interact they release their energy in the form of galaxies, with mass producing a new state of energy along with stars. The background microwave signal and the expanding space between galaxies moving away from eachother is evidence of an on going process. :)

    • The background microwave signal […] is evidence of an on going process.
      No, the background is the afterglow of what happened 13.75 billion years ago.

      • The fact that we can view the past at “13.75 billion years” is clear evidence of an on going process. There is no evidence of a begining, there cant be, energy can not be created or destroyed.

      • We are seeing the ‘surface of last scattering’ as it was 13.75 billion years ago. In one hour we are seeing it as it was 13.75 billion years + 1 hour ago. It is not exactly the same surface, but the change is so small we can’t see it. Come back in a billion years and the background is still there but have cooled and is weaker. It is like watching a hot iron cool. the process the made the iron hot is no longer ongoing.

      • We could jump out a billion light years in that direction and take a look to compare. I wanted to add that gravity bends and stretches light. Light is very strange stuff. There is a lot more information packed in light than we can imagine that’s 13 billion years old. In some cases the light could come out of the fiber before the light gets there and in others would never come out. … I don’t know if space is really expanding or not. Distortions in space/time I have a higher confidence in. I don’t know if based on red shift alone is enough to prove space is expanding. It’s like we are saying we were there 13 billion years ago simply because we can see it. What if there is no 0,0,0,0 location? (x,y,z,t)

      • It would be interesting to see what it looks like now, after 13 billion years of cosmic interactions etc., but I guess that will never happen ?

      • ” It would be interesting to see what it looks like now, after 13 billion years of cosmic interactions etc., but I guess that will never happen ”
        Nope, we have one from WMAP

      • When I was a boy(call it 1968 or so), after I had my little 4 inch reflector scope and realized it was nowhere near big enough to see the star clusters and such I saw in the books, and heard about the big bang, I remember looking at the stars and thinking that if you could just see futher, had a really big telescope you should be able to see the remnants of the explosion.
        I have been fortunate to live through such interesting times.

  33. Space is expanding…? I’m sorry, but I can’t find any intellectual investment in an incoherent idea. Expanding relative to what? Some underlying ur-space? It is simply meaningless, and illustrates the philosophical poverty of the current paradigm. So also with “space-time,” which implies a continuum of time, and yet there is only the present moment for any of us.

    There is nothing more fabulous than contemporary cosmology. It will take generations of deceased practitioners to allow a fresh look at the subject.

    (By the way, I have a thick skin, from 40 years’ involvement in quantum weapons, space transportation, and other fields of practical engineering.)

    • Expanding relative to what?
      It simply means that the distance between two objects is increasing with time. What is so hard to understand about that?

      • Not hard to understand at all. We normally call it “relative velocity,” not “expanding space.” It involves momentum and kinetic energy.

      • The actual objects moving, or space expanding between them. One would be determined by time and the other one where there is no time. There would also be no way of determine a flight path or a way of getting to point a from b. When would you get there? In expanding space the arrow would never reach its target. And if there is no time in expanding space then there is no start point to the big bang. If space expands there is no reason it couldn’t contract either. You could also have areas, as I mentioned before of distortions. Some parts of space expanding and others contracting. If you see 2 galaxies colliding one could assume that space is contracting in that area. If cosmology is like quantum physics, all kinds of things are possible. If not it has to be ordered and obey laws of physics, at this level at least.

        If gravity is stretching light, how do you know what you are looking at in a red shift? I don’t know which would cause a bigger headache, spooky action at a distance in quantum physics, or spooky action at a distance in cosmology. Which goes along with at every level of organization, it has all the properties of the one before while exhibiting new ones. It lends credence to all the truly strange things that happen. Bermuda triangle, ghosts, paranormal activity… all of that comes in the circle of possible. Biology is not an accident, just a way that matter evolves like salt crystals that can make elaborate designs. If it exists here it exists elsewhere . The only problem would be discontinuity. I haven’t seen any discontinuity in time. If you drew a circle which, no matter how far fetched, could happen, and outside that circle things that couldn’t, then a T Rex hunting at the local shopping mall would be expected outside the circle. The arrow of time is the biggest problem with space expanding. Of course, I thought that during the first few shakes of a nuclear explosion that time could run backwards and fowards. And even then saw nothing outside the circle of possible. You could change the future of things, but not the past. With space expanding and contracting, there is no past or future events. Everything is static. And that is somewhat hard to accept. But then you’d have distortions, nothing could ever go back to the way it was.

      • I disagree there are paradoxes. There is the useful. We just ignore the nagging questions and build within the parameters. And then there are times when we address the nagging questions. It’s not wrapped up in a neat box and that’s the way it is. For all we know, we could be looking at ourselves. If space were expanding, we wouldn’t know. Even the space between atoms and at deeper structures would expand proportional. There is space in an atom. If space wasn’t/isn’t expanding equally everywhere, you’re talking about rips in the space/time continuum. And where would the production of dark matter come from to fill that space? And the production of regular matter to fill that space? And what would be either pushing or pulling the space to expand? And if there is a limit to the size of the universe, what’s on the outside of it? Summation of the linear distance equates to the speed the object is receding. Some objects would be so far away they would exceed the speed of light? It would blink out. We should be able to calculate that by taking the red shift of a nearby galaxy and not one but two other galaxies. (Verifying of course by triangulation ). That would give us an idea of where the break point is to exceed the speed of light. That would be the limit of our observable universe.

    • I just can’t resist.

      “There is nothing more fabulous than contemporary cosmology.” On this, at least, you & I agree! It is amazing what centuries of scientific observation will come up with; it’s certainly not as though this idea of expanding space-time happened yesterday and everyone just jumped on board without questioning it.

      “(By the way, I have a thick skin, from 40 years’ involvement in quantum weapons, space transportation, and other fields of practical engineering.)”

      Funny thing, so do I. At least, the last two I do, the first one I’m not sure what you mean. I can say for sure that every weapon I’ve ever fired (in the Army and on my own personal time) has had some form of quantized ammunition, is that what you mean…?

      • Fabulous, of course, refers to imaginary worlds…

        Photons, as in high-energy lasers (or nuclear devices). X-ray slap comes to mind. I confess to anticipating snarky one-upmanship from those whose expertise is maybe less than they think, so maybe I should have kept silent. I am no saint. But thanks for the agreeable spirit of discourse.

      • “Fabulous, of course, refers to imaginary worlds…”

        Ah, of course. I guess we disagree after all. You may wish to investigate the reason we named the big telescope in the sky “Hubble” — and more to the point, why his name was the one we attached to it — before dismissing the idea of cosmological expansion out of hand. To clarify, I don’t assert that it’s necessarily 100% correct, just that it’s the idea that best fits observation at this point; the falsifying evidence to the contrary has yet to be found, but I remain open to the possibility of its existence.

        “But thanks for the agreeable spirit of discourse.”

        I do tend to believe that such is more conducive to the exchange of information & ideas, moreso than mudslinging in any case. And thanks for the weapons clarification: lasers I’ve played with on the comm/ranging side rather than as active weaponry, per se (I do NOT refer to hand-held “non-lethal”/”flash light” stuff airline pilots complain about); no actual nukes though, apart some of the platforms which may or may not be capable of deploying them.

        Best regards!

      • I’m not sure how this works, but I mean to reply to Smokey’s comment of 10 Mar, 1:41 PM.

        Hubble Telescope: It is true that Edwin Hubble discovered a relationship (at galactic distances) between distance and redshift. But he never accepted the idea that the redshift was the result of recession velocity (I recall reading a paper he wrote on this point, with clear arguments against it, but cannot now find the reference). It is therefore quite ironic that his name is attached to the modern premise that distance = velocity. Halton Arp’s observations put quite a kink in the assumption that redshifts are entirely due to recession. Funny thing about “falsifying evidence”: if the holders of the prevalent theory don’t want to pay attention to the evidence, no falsification is possible.

        Laser Weapons: Fun stuff. Capable of surprising things.

      • Halton Arp’s observations put quite a kink in the assumption that redshifts are entirely due to recession
        Today we have many orders of magnitude more data and they show that Arp’s observations are completely consistent with chance alignments, so there are no more any ‘kinks’ to worry about. In addition, red shifts are not measures of recession velocities [so in that sense Arp was right], as the galaxies are not moving at all. Instead, space is expanding carrying the galaxies with it like raisins is a rising raisin-bread.

    • So also with “space-time,” which implies a continuum of time, and yet there is only the present moment for any of us.

      I’ve wondered about this, this to me is at least a partial explanation, Let’s start that time is as much a real direction as x,y, and z, and we’re in free fall in the time dimension based on the gravitational field at that location. As gravity changes, the slope of the physical x,z and z with respect to time decreases with gravity.
      This is the cause for our one way arrow of time. And why it’s not fixed, and why most physics is invariant (I think that’s the correct term) with respect to time.

      • The problem with this line of thinking is that it assumes what is argued (“let’s assume time is a dimension like length, width, or depth…”). Too many readings of H. G. Wells’ “The Time Machine” are persuasive, but we forget it was a work of fiction, not of physics. Time is not a direction. If it is anything, it might be considered a measure of change. We can work quantitatively with time if we can find natural processes that are describable by a theoretical relationship between the process and the passage of time (e.g., pendulums, radioactivity).

        But the past is past, and the future is yet to come, so time remains a “dimension” that has no extent. (Just because we can graph things with respect to time does not mean that time is a dimension. We can graph things with respect to temperature, too, but temperature is not a dimension.)

        As for the “arrow of time,” that comes from the Second Law of Thermodynamics (increase of entropy), and why certain physical processes are irreversible.

        On the other hand, quantum entanglement suggests there are processes that occur over distances without the passage of time. A deep puzzle, to be sure. Make a point to live through most of this century to find out how the story progresses…

      • Scale is the missing factor when, (0,0,0,0) xyzt, there is a g that increases or decreases in size, space expanding as the ‘scale’ of time increases or decreases, is ‘relative’ space and time in scale also increases or decreases with ‘ relative’ perspective. Hubble and Einstine knew this but the “big bang” theory is the dumbed down catchy phrase that means “the begining of the universe… the science behind it is pretty amazing.

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