11 The Pre-Quasar Situation

CHAPTER XI

The Pre-Quasar Situation

Although the preceding chapter completes the discussion of the quasar phenomenon per se, so far as we are justified in carrying it in a general work of this kind, there are some additional subjects that are so closely related to the quasars that they should also be given some attention before concluding the presentation. These are items that are involved in the situation which exists while the forces that will ultimately produce the quasars, in the normal course of events, are in the process of building up.

As emphasized throughout the discussion in the previous pages, the initial event in the explosive process that produces the quasars is the disintegration of one or more individual stars that reach the destructive age limit. In what may be called the normal pattern, the oldest stars are located in the interiors of the largest galaxies (which, according to the theory, are the oldest) and as these stars successively arrive at the limit and explode they build up tremendous forces that ultimately break through the overlying material and throw off fragments of the galaxy, including the quasars, which are ejected at speeds greater than that of light. Subsequently, additional stars within the quasar also reach the age limit and explode, altering the properties of the quasars.

This fact that the energy of each of the major explosive events comes from an accumulation of relatively small (compared to the final energy release) energy increments contributed by explosions of individual stars has some important consequences even before the ejection of the quasar. We can deduce, for instance, that the accumulation of enough energy to cause this ejection extends over a considerable period of time, and it follows that we should be able to detect objects in which the build-up of energy is under way. Such objects are, of course, galaxies, and we should be able to find certain types of galaxies in which we can observe indications that large amounts of energy are being generated by processes that involve ultra high speeds.

One of the first possibilities that must be considered is that the N-type galaxies may not have the significance that was attributed to them in Chapter VIII, and are instead galaxies that are building up energy for the quasar ejection. The available evidence is not adequate to resolve this question conclusively, but at the moment the odds seem to be rather strongly in favor of the hypothesis that these are the galaxies in which the quasars have actually been ejected behind the galaxies of origin, but are moving only in time and not spatially. The points in favor of this explanation were summarized in Chapter VIII, and as matters now stand they are persuasive enough to give the occlusion hypothesis the preference.

Furthermore, there are not enough of the N-type galaxies. The pre-ejection stage in which the explosive forces are gradually building up must be a long one, and since all, or nearly all, large galaxies pass through this stage, galaxies that are in this condition should be very common, much more common than the N-type objects. Another item that has a bearing on this question is that many galaxies which we have good reason to believe are already in one stage or another of the explosion process do not exhibit the N-type characteristics. The presence of jets of luminous material, for instance, is prima facie evidence of the existence of internal forces of the kind that can cause ejection of quasars when they reach a high enough level of magnitude. But the galaxies with jets, of which M 87 is the most conspicuous example, are not N-type galaxies; they are, for the most part, giant elliptical galaxies of what may be called a standard type. The significant feature that they do have, the feature that links them with the explosive phenomena of the kind that produces the quasars, is that they emit substantial amounts of radiation at radio frequencies; that is, they are “radio galaxies.”

The conclusion that this points to is that the galaxies which are in the stage of building up the internal pressure that will ultimately result in ejection of quasars are simply giant old galaxies that reveal their turbulent internal condition only by their radio frequency radiation, except in those cases where there are leakages that show up as jets or similar phenomena. This is a conclusion that fits easily and naturally into the general structure of theory. Even the most elementary consideration of the theoretical situation indicates that the explosions must normally take place in the interiors of the oldest and largest galaxies. (This was explicitly stated in the 1959 publication.) The observations indicate that the strongest radio galaxies are giants—elliptical or large spiral types—the very ones that, on the basis of the theory, should be building up the forces necessary to produce the quasars.

Although current astronomical thought has not yet reached the point of recognizing that there is a destructive event at the end of the life period of each galaxy, or even recognizing that there is a definite correlation between size and age, it is beginning to be realized that some kind of a limit exists, and that this fact requires an explanation. Fred Hoyle poses the question specifically: “Galaxies apparently exist up to a certain limit and not beyond that. Why?”48 J. G. Bolton goes a step farther and identifies the limit with radio emission. He points out that

The radio galaxies are at the upper end of the luminosity function for all galaxies which suggests that radio emission may be associated with some stability limit.49

There is also a growing realization that some explanation will have to be found for the observed fact that the masses of the giant elliptical galaxies are abnormally high in proportion to their luminosity. According to a recent news item, “They are about 70 times more massive than they should be if they are made up entirely of stars like the sun.”50 Conventional astronomical theory provides no mechanism whereby such an alteration of the mass-luminosity relation can be accomplished. It is recognized that most of the discrepancy would be accounted for “if one assumes that elliptical galaxies are extraordinarily rich in dim white dwarf stars,” but there is no visible justification for any such assumption. Here again, therefore, the theorists are resorting to the ancient device of a “demon.” The investigators quoted in the news report are postulating the existence of “black holes,” hypothetical concentrations of mass so large that radiation cannot escape from them, and are then making the purely ad hoc suggestion that the elliptical galaxies are well supplied with these purely hypothetical “black holes.”

In the context of the Reciprocal System there is no mystery at all about the mass situation in the elliptical galaxies, or the existence of a limiting galactic size. These are simply two aspects of the evolutionary pattern of the galaxies. As painted out in the preceding pages, a “star pressure” is building up in the interiors of the older galaxies; that is, an increasing proportion of the constituent stars are being accelerated to ultra high speeds by the energy released in the explosion of stars that reach the destructive age limit. The cores of these galaxies are thus in the same condition as the white dwarf stars and the quasars; their density is abnormally high because the introduction of the time displacement of the ultra high speeds reduces the equivalent space occupied by the central portion of the galaxy. In brief, we may say that the reason for the abnormal relation between mass and luminosity in the giant ellipticals is that these galaxies have white dwarf cores—not white dwarf stars in the core, but white dwarf cores. As a galactic core increases in mass and energy, with an accompanying increase in the intensity of the radio emission, it ultimately reaches the point where the internal pressure is sufficient to eject portions of the galaxy. The limitation on galactic size is thus an indirect result of the age limit to which matter is subject.

Like the quasar 3C 273, with which it is associated, the galaxy M 87 is of special interest because it is the only member of its class near enough to be accessible to detailed investigation. This object has all of the features that theoretically distinguish a galaxy that has reached the end of the road. It is a giant elliptical, with the greatest mass of any galaxy for which a reasonable estimate can be made; it is an intense radio source, one of the first extragalactic sources identified; and a jet of high velocity material emitting strongly polarized light can be seen originating from the nucleus of the galaxy. These indications of explosive activity are so evident that they were recognized just as soon as the theoretical limits to the life of the galaxies were discovered, long before the existence of galactic explosions was recognized by the astronomers. The 1959 publication contained this statement: “It would be in order to identify this galaxy (M 87), at least tentatively, as one which is now undergoing a cosmic explosion.”

Another point of interest in connection with M 87 is that there have evidently been at least two ejections prior to the action that is now taking place. According to Arp, the average recession speeds of the galaxies in different parts of the region around M 87 range from about 400 km/sec more than the speed of M 87 to about 400 km/sec less.38 Any quasar or radio galaxy within about 0.0015 of the 0.0031 recession of M 87 is therefore a member of the cluster of galaxies (the Virgo cluster) centered around M 87 and is a possible explosion product. Arp’s association 134, listed in Table II, includes the quasar 3C 273 and the radio galaxy 3C 274, both of which are within the limits specified. In the same vicinity there is another quasar PKS 1217+02, with a redshift of 0.240, equivalent to a recession shift of 0.0045, and emitting only about one-thirtieth as much energy as 3C 273. There are also several radio galaxies in the same neighborhood with redshifts that qualify them as possible partners of the second quasar. We may therefore conclude that PKS 1217+02 and one of the nearby radio galaxies, perhaps 3C 270; with redshift 0.0037, were ejected in an explosion subsequent to the 3C 273 event.

The conclusion that 3C 273 was produced earlier than PKS 1217+02 follows from the status of the latter as a member of a group of relatively young objects, the Class I quasars, whereas 3C 273 is a Class II quasar and, as brought out earlier, is probably as old as the normal members of its class, which do not appear short of a quasar distance of 0.800. In this connection, it will be of interest to see what can be done, by using the information developed in the preceding chapters together with what we have here deduced regarding the M 87 situation, in the way of a more specific evaluation of the time scale of the various stages of the existence of the quasars.

On the basis of the currently favored “big bang” theory of the origin of the galactic recession, a galaxy which is now receding from us at or near the speed of light has been moving at this speed ever since the “bang” occurred. Our findings indicate, however, that the “big bang” is purely mythical, and that the galaxy in question did not travel the full distance out to its present location but originated at some intervening point and moved outward from there, gradually accelerating by reason of the attenuation of the oppositely directed gravitational motion with increasing distance. Each point in the line of travel corresponds to a specific velocity of recession, and in order to compute the time required to move from one location to a more distant one we must integrate between these limits. If we take the value of the Hubble constant as 100 km/sec per million parsecs, we find that the maximum life span of a Class II quasar, the time required to move from a quasar distance of 0.800, where the Class II quasars first make their appearance, to 2.000, the limit beyond which they disappear from view, is about 9 billion years.

Examination of the information thus far accumulated indicates that it is necessary to go out to a quasar distance of about 0.450 before there are enough Class I quasars to account for the number of Class II quasars that appear around distance 0.800. We may therefore take the time required to move from 0.450 to 0.800, about 6 billion years, as an approximation of the time that elapses between the original ejection of the quasar and the beginning of the Class II activity. This puts the maximum life of a quasar somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 billion years.

In the light of current thought, which regards the quasars as short-lived objects—“brilliant but ephemeral,” as Greenstein termed them in the statement quoted in Chapter I—this conclusion may seem altogether fantastic. It should be realized, however, that the quasar as it emerges from the theoretical development in this work is a very different object from the quasar as currently visualized. To the astronomer, the quasar is an object of uncertain origin and nature, with a number of unusual properties, some of which, such as the large output of radiant energy, seem unlikely to be capable of continuing over any greatly extended period of time. On this basis the quasar must be short-lived. In the context of the Reciprocal System, on the other hand, the quasar is a galactic fragment—a small galaxy—which displays these unusual characteristics only during certain periods of its existence. Unless it attains the Class II status, which most quasars apparently do not, the active stage is relatively short, and throughout the remainder of its long journey out to the 2.00 distance limit it is rather obscure, distinguished only by its large redshift and some other evidence of ultra high speed.

Objects that answer the description of quasars in their radio quiet stage are well known, but not well understood, and still somewhat controversial. The Burbidges make this comment:

Same starlike objects were found that are similar in all their optical properties to the quasi-stellar radio sources but do not emit any detectable radio energy. They have variously been described as quasi-stellar objects, blue stellar objects, quasi-stellar galaxies, and interlopers.51

Sandage has made a special study of these radio-quiet quasars and has concluded that they constitute “a major new constituent of the universe.” His results indicate that these objects may be 500 times more numerous than the active quasars.52 This would mean that each quasar spends approximately two-tenths of one percent of its total life span, or about 30 million years, in the active Class I stage. However, most of those who have commented on the Sandage estimate suggest that it is too high, and if it is reduced to some extent the indicated active life of the quasar will be increased accordingly. An active life of 100 or 200 million years would seem more in line with the general scale of quasar ages. The present tendency is to talk in terms of around a million years,53 but this is predicated on energy calculations based on the assumption of a three-dimensional distribution of the quasar radiation, and it is not realistic in the light of our new findings.

In any event, the characterization of these Class I quasars in their quiet stage as a “major constituent of the universe” lends additional emphasis to the point brought out at the end of Chapter X: the fact that the quasar is not a freak or an abnormality whose existence has to be explained by some unusual combination of circumstances. Like any other “major constituent” it has a definite and significant place in the main stream of physical activity, the kind of a place that it occupies in the theoretical universe of the Reciprocal System.

Thus far we have been considering the situation which may be considered normal, where the oldest stars are in the interiors of the oldest galaxies, but inasmuch as the basic units, from the standpoint of the aging process, are the individual stars, we can expect to find frequent deviations from the normal pattern. A galaxy may, for example, capture a number of relatively old stars quite early in its life, or it may even pick up some old star clusters or a small galaxy of a fairly advanced age, a remnant of an exploding galaxy, for example. These older stars will reach the destructive age limit and explode before the galaxy arrives at the stage where such explosions are normal events. If the premature activity of this kind is not extensive, the energy that is released is absorbed in the normal motions of the galaxy. But where a considerable number of stars—those in a captured cluster, perhaps—reach the age limit in advance of the normal time, some significant results may follow.

For instance, if large scale activity of this kind begins when the galaxy is in an earlier stage where it is smaller and less compact than the giant ellipticals, the internal action will not be as much obscured by the overlying material, and we may observe some effects of the ultra high speeds in addition to the radiation at radio frequencies. There is an observed class of spiral galaxies that exhibits just the kind of behavior that is to be expected from a galaxy in this condition: one that is experiencing what we may call a premature large-scale series of explosions. These Seyfert galaxies, as they are called because they were first described by C. K. Seyfert, are smaller than the giant ellipticals, and by reason of the spiral structure, in which much of the galactic mass is spread out in the form of a disk, their central regions are relatively exposed, rather than being buried under the outlying portions of the galaxy, as is true in the big ellipticals. Whatever action is going on in the Seyfert galaxies is thus more accessible to observation.

The observable evidence of this action is fully in agreement with the theoretical conclusions. Aside from the great difference in red shifts, the nuclei of these galaxies are remarkably similar to the quasars. As expressed by R. J. Weymann, “Except for an apparent difference in luminosity, Seyfert galaxies and quasars may represent essentially similar phenomena.” The findings discussed in Chapter VIII indicate that the actual luminosity difference is not as great as has been thought, but some difference in luminosity is understandable, as the events taking place in the Seyfert galaxies are phenomena of the pre-ejection stage and are much less violent than those which occur during and after ejection. Weymann points out that the spectral characteristics of the light from the nuclei of these galaxies are quite different from those of the light coming from the outlying regions.

Ordinary stars (such as our sun) emit more yellow light than blue light. This is also the case if one observes a Seyfert galaxy through an aperture that admits most of the light from the galaxy. As the aperture is reduced to accept light only from the central regions, however, the ultraviolet and blue part of the spectrum begins to predominate.26

This is another piece of information that fits neatly into the general theoretical picture. We have deduced from theory that the predominantly yellow light (positive U-B) that we receive from ordinary galaxies is characteristic of matter moving with speeds less than that of light, whereas the predominantly ultraviolet light (negative U-B) is characteristic of matter moving with ultra high speeds. Now we observe an otherwise normal galaxy with a nucleus in which there is some unusual activity. From theoretical considerations we identify this activity as being due to a series of stellar explosions that are accelerating some aggregates of matter to speeds in excess of the speed of light, and we find that the light from this galaxy displays exactly the characteristics that the theory requires.

A very significant point here is that the violent motion in the cores of the Seyfert galaxies that is predicted by the theory has actually been detected observationally. Weymann reports that the emission spectra of the Seyfert galaxies “indicate that the gases in them are in a high state of excitation and are traveling at high speed in clouds or filaments. Outbursts probably occur from time to time, producing new high-velocity material.” This, of course, is a good description of the state of affairs that the theory says should exist, not only in the Seyfert galaxies, but in the cores of the giant ellipticals as well. To the astronomers the whole situation is a “puzzle” because, unlike the Reciprocal System, conventional theory provides no means, other than gravitation, of confining high speed material within a galaxy, and gravitational forces are hopelessly inadequate in this case. Weymann summarizes the problem in this manner:

If we accept the fact that the gas inside the tiny core of a Seyfert galaxy is moving at the high apparent velocity indicated by the spectra, and if we assume that the gas is not held within the core by gravitation, we must explain how it is replaced or conclude that the violent activity observed in the core is a rare transient event caused by some explosive outbursts.

But the latter possibility, he concedes, is inadmissible, because the Seyfert galaxies “cannot be considered particularly rare.” Hence this piece of observational evidence that is such a significant and valuable item of confirmation of the theory described in this work, not only the theory of the Seyfert galaxies, but the whole theory of the galactic explosion phenomena, including the quasars, is nothing but another enigma to conventional theory. The same factor that makes the internal activity of the Seyfert galaxies more accessible to observation than that of the giant ellipticals, the thinner layer of overlying material, also limits the kind of products that can result from such activity. In these smaller galaxies it is not possible to build up the great concentration of energy that is necessary in order to produce a quasar, and the ejections of material therefore take a less energetic form. The most common result is nothing more than a jet or an outflow of matter in a less concentrated pattern, but in certain instances it can be expected that a fragment of the galaxy will be ejected, without the ultra high speed of the quasar. Such a fragment will be similar to the radio galaxies ejected in conjunction with the quasars, but may have some points of difference on account of the lower energy environment in which it was formed.

Similar less violent ejections may also take place from the elliptical galaxies under appropriate circumstances, and a further study of the M 87 jet phenomenon may throw some light on this matter. It has been noted54 that the galaxy M 84 (radio source 3C 272.1) is aligned with this jet in such a manner as to suggest that the galaxy may have been formed from material ejected in the jet, or in a more active phase of the same explosive event that preceded the jet phase. A small counterjet has been found by Arp on the opposite side of the galaxy, and it seems quite possible that these jets constitute one stage of a long-continued emission in which the greater part of the ejected material comes out with speeds less than that of light. It no doubt takes an appreciable time to close off the opening left by the ejection of a section of the galaxy, and during this interval there must be some leakage of energetic material from the galactic interior. The present activity of M 87 could well be an after-effect of the most recent quasar ejection: a secondary process that was strong enough immediately after the primary ejection to throw off a rather large fragment (M 84) but is now down to a lower level of activity, and will eventually terminate as M 87 resumes its full spheroidal shape.

Ultimately, after a number of ejections have occurred, an exploding galaxy such as M 87 will have lost so much of its substance that it will be unable to resume its normal shape and once more confine the exploding material to the interior of the structure. From this point on the products of the stellar explosions will be expelled at more moderate speeds in the form of clouds of dust and gas, and the pressures necessary for the ejection of fragments of the galaxy will not be generated. The galaxy M 82, the first in which definite evidence of an explosion was recognized, seems to be in this stage. Photographs of the galaxy taken with the 200 inch telescope and reproduced in the article by A. R. Sandage previously cited2 show immense clouds of material moving outward, and the galactic structure appears badly distorted.

Just how large M 82 may have been in its prime, before it began ejecting mass, cannot be determined from the information now available, but at present it is in the range of a rather small spiral. Sooner or later its remnants, like those of all other over-age galaxies, will be swallowed up by a larger neighbor. The eventual fate of M 82 is clearly foreshadowed by the comment in the Sandage article that the evidence of explosive events in this galaxy was discovered in a survey of “a group of visible galaxies centered on the giant spiral galaxy M 81.”

It is evident from the many items covered in the preceding discussion that the term “radio galaxy” covers a wide diversity of objects. Violent events that cause atomic readjustments result in radio emission whenever they occur, and any galaxy in which large scale action of this kind is taking place qualifies as a radio galaxy. This classification thus includes (1) giant old galaxies that are building up internal forces which will ultimately result in explosions and ejection of quasars, (2) smaller spiral galaxies in which less violent explosive events are occurring, (3) galaxies that have already lost substantial portions of their mass by reason of explosive ejections and are undergoing internal readjustments, (4) fragments ejected in conjunction with quasars, and (5) fragments ejected in less violent explosions.

To these, the theoretical development indicates that we should add a sixth: galaxies in the process of collision. The collision hypothesis was quite popular as an explanation of the radio emission in the early days of radio astronomy, one of the principal reasons being that Cygnus A, the most powerful extragalactic radio source known at the time, appeared very much like two colliding objects in the photographs taken with the 200 inch telescope. This hypothesis is now out of favor, mainly because conventional theory indicates that two galaxies should pass through each other with little interaction. The assertion of the Reciprocal System of physical theory that the stars of a galaxy occupy equilibrium positions and thus participate in a structure similar to that of a liquid puts a much different light on this situation. On this basis, one galaxy cannot pass through another. The collision is equivalent to an inelastic impact of liquid aggregates, and the kinetic energy of motion of the incoming galaxy must be absorbed by the constituent stars of the two interacting units. Some of these stars will be sufficiently excited to produce radio frequency radiation.

The theoretical development also reveals that galactic collisions must be relatively common, as the capture of smaller galaxies by larger ones plays a significant part in the process of growth that ultimately produces the giant elliptical galaxies from which the quasars originate. Galactic collisions account for some of the “peculiar” galaxies that the astronomers now recognize as an important component of the galactic population. Those galaxies that have been distorted and partially disintegrated by explosions, such as M 82, constitute another component of this category, and it is quite likely that there are a number of other varieties of “peculiarity” that will come to light as astronomical investigation continues.

In addition to the confirmation supplied by the observations of the violent activity in the cores of the Seyfert galaxies, there is a great deal of other evidence supporting the theoretical conclusion that the energy for all of the explosive events in the galaxies is derived from a multiplicity of individual sources within the galactic aggregate. The highly variable nature of the radio emission from many of the sources is a strong indication of separate events, particularly since some of these variations are rapid enough to justify being called “bursts.” In other cases the emission has been found to originate at many different locations within the galaxy. G. R. Burbidge reports, for example, that a number of small radio sources exist in the nucleus of M 87.55 These are not individual stars, since the total number of stars contributing to the emission at any one time must be very large, but the observations do show that we are dealing with multiple sources rather than a single large source.

Although the stellar explosions which we now recognize as the ultimate energy sources for all of the explosive events that have been discussed in the past few chapters are quite infrequent in the disk of our galaxy, we can expect them to occur more often in the core, where the older stars are concentrated. Weymann points out in his article on the Seyfert galaxies that the phenomena which distinguish these objects may very well exist on a reduced scale in other galaxies, and he reports that “radia observations indicate that something quite unusual is going on in the center of our own galaxy,” also that small sources of intense radio emission have been found in the nuclei of a number of ordinary spiral galaxies. This is just what we would expect on theoretical grounds.

Here is the last link in the complete pre-quasar sequence. In young galaxies and in the outer portions of the older galaxies explosions of stars that reach the age limit occur as individual events, and their energy is dissipated among their surroundings. In spiral galaxies of moderate size, such as our own, the explosions in the galactic core, where the average age of the stars is the greatest, become frequent enough to produce a small permanent source of intense radio emission. As galactic age and size increase, the explosions become still more frequent, the active region becomes larger, and the internal pressure due to the ultra high speed of the explosion products rises.

If the pressure rise is relatively rapid, so that the ejection pressure is approached, or actually reached, while the galaxy is still in the spiral stage, the Seyfert phenomena make their appearance; otherwise the galaxy assumes the spheroidal shape eventually, and the ultra high speed activity is hidden (except for the radio emission) beneath the heavy layer of overlying material. This increased resistance to penetration by the explosion products permits building up higher pressures, until finally the outer layers give way and ejection of one or more fragments takes place. If the pressure build-up continues to the maximum before the ejection one of the ejected products is a quasar.

Here, then, is the pattern of the pre-quasar events, from the individual stellar explosion to the birth of the quasar, as we determine it from the same theory that was applied to the investigation of the quasars themselves. All along the line, we find every item falling into place easily and naturally in the precise manner required by the applicable theoretical considerations.