26 Radio Galaxies

CHAPTER 26

Radio Galaxies

As predicted in the first edition of this work, the fast-moving products of galactic explosions that are now known as quasars were discovered in the course of observations of radiation at radio wavelengths. A dozen years earlier, the first radio galaxy, Cygnus A, had been identified. The optical object corresponding to this radio source was found to have the appearance of two galaxies in collision. When another very strong radio emitter, Centaurus A, was discovered and identified with an optical object, NGC 5128, that likewise appeared to be a pair of colliding galaxies, the galactic collision hypothesis became the favored explanation of the origin of the extra-galactic radio emission, although no one could explain how collisions could produce the observed radiation.

As more radio observations accumulated, it became clear that the great majority of the radio sources are not colliding galaxies. The necessity of providing some other explanation for most of the sources raised doubts as to the validity of the collision hypothesis, and “by 1960 the colliding-galaxy theory of radio sources had all but expired.” Ten or twelve years later the pendulum had swung back in the other direction. The authors of the foregoing comment on the situation in 1960 saw it this way in 1973:

We suspect that in NGC 3921 and similar objects one is witnessing the vigorous tumbling together or merger of what until recently were two quite separate galaxies.260

A realization that galactic collisions, once thought to be rare events, are actually quite common, has been a significant factor in this change of attitude. There are many galaxies with distorted shapes, and it has been found that a substantial number of these are, or at least appear to be, double structures of some kind, suggesting that two separate galaxies are, or have been, interacting. In NGC S l28 what we apparently see is a spiral galaxy plowing into the middle of a giant elliptical galaxy. This view is supported by the observation that “the gaseous disk is apparently rotating much faster than the elliptical component.”261 The galaxy NGC 4650A is reported to have a similar structure, with an elliptical core and an outer spiral galaxy revolving around the core.

In considering the situation from a theoretical standpoint, the first point to be noted is that colliding galaxies produce radio frequency radiation by the same process as any other strong radio emitter; that is, the radiation comes from particles that have been accelerated to upper range speeds. The acceleration can be produced in any one of a number of different ways. Thus it is quite possible that some of the observed radio emission may be a result of galactic collisions, even though in the majority of the radio emitters it results from explosive processes. It would be expected, however, that the explosions, the more violent of the two processes, would produce the stronger radiation.

What needs to be explained, then, in the case of the two sources Cygnus A and Centaurus A, is the exceptional strength of their radio emissions. The answer that we obtain from the theory is that the strong emission is not a direct result of the collision but an indirect result, in which sources of radiation already present are released. It is evident from observation that in each case one of the two colliding objects is a giant. We have previously deduced that the interiors of such giant galaxies contain concentrations of intermediate and ultra high speed matter, enough to make these galaxies strong sources of radio emission even when their structures are intact and only a small part of the radiation that is produced is able to pass through the material that overlies the producing zone. These giant galaxies are large enough, and stable enough, to be able to absorb globular clusters or small galaxies without any significant disturbance of their own structures, but a collision with a large spiral can be expected to result in some disruption of the outer structure of the giant, allowing the escape of large quantities of explosion products from the interior. Here, then, is a source of radiation that is easily able to account for the strong emission from the two objects in question.

The alteration of the normal pattern of development of the internal activity by escape of matter and radiation during collisions is not likely to have any long run significance. It can be expected that when the consolidation of the two galaxies is complete the new galactic structure will be able to contain the material moving with upper range speeds, and the build-up of this material will be resumed, continuing to the ultimate limit in the normal manner. However, some drastic changes in the pattern of evolution of the galaxy may result if the large-scale explosive activity is premature. This possibility will be explored in the next chapter.

Two objections have been raised to the collision hypothesis in application to NGC 5128: ( 1 ) the “dark lane is wider than would be normal for the disk in a spiral galaxy,“ and (2) the “lane is more disturbed than the matter in the disk of a spiral galaxy should be.”263 Neither of these objections is tenable once it is understood that the stars of a galaxy occupy equilibrium positions. Disturbance of this equilibrium by contact with another galaxy generates effects that extend over great distances.

The recent discovery that NGC 5128 is a strong x-ray source supports the conclusion that a collision has disrupted the structure of the giant galaxy, as the intermediate speed component of the matter escaping from the central region of the galaxy begins emitting x-rays as soon as its temperature drops below the unit level. Inasmuch as the x-ray radiation originates from matter moving at less than unit speed, it should be emitted mainly from the optical location rather than the radio locations. This theoretical conclusion is confirmed by observation .264

Whether the speeds responsible for the radio emission of the colliding galaxies are produced in part by the collision, or whether the fast-moving matter released by the rupture of the outer layers of the larger galaxy is the sole source of this radiation is not definitely indicated by the information now available, but the indications are that the contribution of the collision is no more than minor. The disruption of the outer structure of a giant spheroidal galaxy is clearly the process that leads to the greatest release of radio-emitting material, and it accounts for the fact that such objects as Cygnus A are extremely strong radio emitters.

Smaller amounts of such material escape from other galaxies and from quasars under special conditions. The giant galaxy M 87, for example, apparently has a hole in its outer structure through which ultra high speed matter is escaping in the form of a jet. In still another class of radio emitting objects, the Seyfert galaxies, the containment is quite limited, and the ultra high speed material escapes continuously, or at short intervals. These latter two classes of objects will be given some further consideration in the next chapter.

Another special kind of radio galaxy is the one known as the N galaxy. Most of these objects are far distant. Consequently they have not been studied as extensively as those more accessible to observation, and the amount of information about them that is now available is rather limited. For this reason, whatever conclusions we may reach with respect to them will have to be somewhat tentative. However, the theory that has been developed from the postulates of the universe of motion requires the existence of a class of objects with the same characteristics as those thus far observed in the N galaxies. On the basis of the information currently available, it thus appears probable that the N galaxies are the objects that the theory calls for.

Inasmuch as there is no gravitational effect beyond a quasar distance of 1.00, the explosion speed has no component in the dimension of the reference system in the range from 1.00 to 2.00. From our point of view, therefore, a quasar originating beyond q = 1.00 remains at its original spatial location (subject to the normal recession) during its entire life span. Ordinarily the radiation from the quasar overpowers that of the galaxy of origin, and the quasar appears to be alone. In some circumstances, however, the presence of the galaxy can be detected. Furthermore, we can deduce from probability considerations that some of the quasars are located directly behind the heavily populated galactic centers from which, according to the theory, they originate. In this case the quasar radiation is absorbed and reradiated.

This means that there should exist a class of galaxies in which the galactic nucleus is abnormally bright and emits radiation with some of the spectral characteristics of the radiation from the quasars. The distinguishing feature of the N galaxies is a nucleus of this nature, and it is now conceded that “the spectra and colors of quasars are similar to those of the nuclei of N galaxies.”265 Indeed, the similarities between these galaxies and the quasars are so evident that it has been suggested that all quasars may be N galaxies with very prominent nuclei.

One specific observation that has been interpreted as evidence in favor of this hypothesis is a change of three magnitudes (a factor of about 16) in the emission from the galaxy X Comae. This leads the observers to conclude that this is “an object that apparently can change temporarily from an N-type galaxy to a QSO.” This, they say, “clearly supports the hypothesis” that quasars are simply very bright galactic nuclei.266 However, the explanation provided by the theory presented in this work is not only equally consistent with the observations, but also explains how and why the change takes place, something that is conspicuously lacking in the “bright nucleus” hypothesis. If the quasar is behind the galaxy from which it was ejected, as we have concluded that the N galaxies are, it is quite possible for changes to occur, as the galaxy rotates, in the amount of matter through which the quasar radiation must pass. Such changes are probably no more than minor in the usual case, but they obviously can extend all the way from a condition in which the entire radiation from the quasar is absorbed and reradiated, so that we have nothing but an N galaxy, ’to a condition in which that radiation passes through essentially unchanged, and we see only a quasar.

It has also been reported267 that in some of the objects of this class the quasar component is “off center” with respect to the underlying galaxy. This is very difficult to explain on the basis of the hypothesis that the N galaxy is a galaxy with a quasar core, but it is easily understood if what is being observed is a galaxy with a quasar almost directly behind the galactic center. Another significant observation is that ”the underlying galaxy [of the N system] has the same colors as a giant elliptical (E) galaxy.”265 This supports the theoretical finding that the underlying galaxy in the N system is a galaxy of maximum size (and age) that exploded and ejected the quasar.

Further support for this explanation comes from the observation that the N galaxies are x-ray emitters. After having been raised to the radio-emitting speed level by the strong radiation from the quasar, some of the gas and dust of the N galaxy loses energy in its interaction with the other galactic constituents, and returns to the lower speed range. This initiates x-ray emission. “All optically known N galaxies out to a red shift of 0.06 are detected as x-ray emitters.”227

The general run of radio galaxies-those that are not members of special classes such as the ones that have been described-are explosion products. As we saw earlier, a radio galaxy is normally produced jointly with each quasar. It is also possible that in some galaxies large-scale supernova activity may begin before the galaxy has reached the size that makes it capable of resisting internal pressures in the ultra high range. In that event, the galactic explosion will be less violent, and the major explosion product will not attain the ultra high speed that characterizes the quasar. Instead, it will be a radio galaxy. In all cases, however, a radio galaxy is an ordinary galaxy, differing from the other members of its class only in that it contains gas and dust that has been accelerated to speeds greater than that of light, and is therefore undergoing the isotopic adjustments that produce radiation at radio frequencies.

Many quasars are strong radio sources, as could be expected from the fact that secondary explosions take place in the older quasars, giving them a source of replacement for the particles and the energy that are dissipated. As we saw in our examination of the absorption spectra, the particle speeds are actually increasing in the older quasars. Radio galaxies, on the other hand, are limited to the original supply of matter and energy that they acquire in the explosive event. It should be noted, however, that the strength of the radiation from the distant quasars is greatly overestimated in current practice, because the absolute value of the emission is calculated on the basis of a three-dimensional distribution. As explained earlier, the actual distribution is two-dimensional.

In those scientific areas where data from observation and experiment are scarce and subject to a variety of interpretations, the generally accepted choice from among the alternatives often fluctuates in a manner reminiscent of the changes of fashion in clothing. The changing attitudes toward the process responsible for the generation of the radiation from the radio galaxies that were mentioned earlier in this chapter now appear to be entering still another phase. The “high fashion” in today’s astrophysical theory is the black hole. Wherever problems are encountered, the current practice is to call upon the black hole to provide the answer. So it was probably inevitable that black holes would find their way into the theory of the radio galaxies.

Just how the black hole accomplishes the observed result is not explained. We are simply expected to say “black hole” as we would say “open sesame,” and take it for granted that we have the answers. For example, K. I. Kellerman reports evidence supporting the “speculation that the efficient transport of energy from the black hole to the extended radio lobes occurs by what is commonly referred to as a relativistic beam or jet.”268 The basic questions as to how and why a black hole produces a “relativistic beam” are passed over without comment.

Since the astronomers know of no means of producing strong radio radiation other than the synchrotron process, they assume that this process must be operating, even though they realize that, as matters now stand, there is no plausible explanation of how the conditions necessary for the operation of this process could be produced on such an enormous scale. J. S. Hey tells us that.

    The synchrotron theory has remained undisputed as the principal process of radio emission. But the problems of the production of relativistic particles and their replenishment by repeated activity have prompted a great deal of speculation… There are at least as many theories as there are theoretical astronomers.269

As this statement indicates, the astronomers’ view of this phenomenon has not advanced beyond the highly speculative stage. H. L. Shipman sums up the situation in this manner:

    We have no definite explanation for the appearance of even the most common form of radio galaxy, the double radio galaxy.270

Here again, the theory of the universe of motion produces the answers to the problems in the course of a systematic and orderly development of the consequences of its basic postulates, without the necessity of making any further assumptions, and without calling upon any black holes or any other figments of the imagination. This theory tells us that, except for some minor contributions from processes such as galactic collisions, the energy of the radio radiation is produced explosively. Gas and dust particles are accelerated to upper range speeds, and radiation at radio frequencies is then produced in the manner described in Chapter 18. Where conditions are such that the speed of certain particles drops back below the unit level at some stage of the evolution of the explosion products, x-ray emission takes place, as also explained in an earlier chapter.

Where the maximum explosion speeds are in the intermediate range, below two units, the explosion products expanding in time have no other motions. The radio emission therefore takes place from the original spatial position-that is, the optical location-of the exploding object, except to the extent that some of the intermediate speed matter may be entrained in the outward-moving low speed products. The general run of white dwarfs and many other radio emitters are therefore single radio sources. Explanation of these sources presents no particular problem, except the basic requirement of accounting for the production of strong radio radiation. Current astronomical theory has nothing to offer as a means of meeting this requirement except the synchrotron process, which, as brought out earlier, is wholly inadequate. But the isotopic adjustment process discussed in Chapter 18 provides an explanation that is in full agreement with the observations.

The most glaring deficiency in the current astronomical views regarding the radio radiation is the one that authors such as Shipman are conceding in their discussions of the subject: the lack of any plausible explanation of the structure of the extended sources. Our finding is that these sources are expanding clouds of matter not essentially different, except in the distribution of their component motions, from the other strong radio sources that we have examined.

In all explosive events within our ordinary experience we observe that an expanding cloud of material is ejected from the exploding object. A supernova remnant is such a cloud. One of the rather surprising results of the development of the consequences of the postulates of the theory of the universe of motion is the finding that the white dwarf, a small compact object, is likewise an expanding cloud of material. It is essentially the same kind of thing as the cloud that is expanding in space, differing only in that it is expanding into time, and is therefore contracting when viewed from the spatial standpoint. This difference in behavior is easily understood when the inverse nature of motion in time (as compared to motion in space) is taken into consideration. Expansion into space increases the spatial size of one cloud of explosion products. Expansion into time decreases the size of the other.

The “mysterious” pulsars have an equally simple explanation. They are merely moving white dwarfs. The ordinary white dwarf, as we have seen, is a stationary expanding object; stationary in space (aside from ordinary vectorial motion) and expanding in time. The pulsar is moving at ultra high speed, the next higher speed range. This object therefore adds another motion, expanding in time like any other white dwarf, and, in addition, moving translationally in a dimension of space other than the one represented in the conventional spatial reference system.

The quasars have the same kind of a combination of motions as the pulsars. Thus we can describe both of these classes of objects as stationary in the dimension of the reference system (except for the normal recession and possible random motion in space), expanding into time (equivalent space), and having a linear motion in a second spatial dimension. Here the explosive increase of speed into the ultra high range has resulted in the addition of two more motion components to the original spatial motion, an expansion and a translational motion. Because of the alternation of space and time in the basic motion, one of these added components must be motion in time and the other motion in space. In the case of the quasars and the pulsars, the expansion is in time and the translation is in space. But, as we saw in Chapter 15, where the theoretical situation was examined, it is equally possible, under appropriate circumstances, for the expansion to take place in space (that is, in the second spatial dimension) and the translation to take place in time. This produces the same results, except that space and time are interchanged. Here we have expansion in space and translation in time.

Although the combination of motions is essentially the same in both cases, the observed phenomena are totally different, because of the limitations of the spatial reference system. To observation, quasars and pulsars are small, very compact, contracting objects. Inverting the roles of space and time in this description, we find that the explosion products of the inverse type are large, very diffuse, expanding objects.

In both cases, the motion in the early stages, immediately following the explosion, is modified by gravitation. As we saw in the case of the quasars, the spatial motion in the second scalar dimension is normally unobservable, but for a time subsequent to the explosion this unobservable scalar motion is acting against gravitation. The gradual elimination of the gravitational effect allows the progression of the natural reference system that was counterbalanced by gravitation to become effective, reversing the change of position in the reference system that resulted originally from gravitation. It was noted in Chapter 22 that this process results in an observable movement in space during the early part of the quasar life, gradually decreasing, and terminating at a quasar speed of 1.00.

ln this instance, Case I, as we will call it, an object that is expanding in time, and is therefore compact in space, undergoes a linear outward motion in space. In the inverse situation, Case II, an object that is expanding in space, and therefore extends over a large spatial volume, undergoes a linear outward motion in time (unobservable). In both cases, the first portion of the spatial motion operates against gravitation, and the gravitational change of position that is eliminated is observable. Thus in Case I there is an observable linear translational motion that terminates at a quasar distance of 1 .00, where the net gravitational motion reaches zero. In Case II there is an observable linear expansion terminating at the same 1.00 distance. Beyond this point the expansion takes the normal spherical form that results from a random distribution of directions.

A rapidly moving stream of particles is commonly called a jet. Thus the spatial expansion at ultra high speeds takes the form of a jet and sphere combination. As we saw earlier, scalar motion does not distinguish between the direction AB and the opposite direction BA. It follows that where there is no obstacle in the way of the expansion, two oppositely directed jet and sphere combinations originate at each explosion site. The objects inversely related to the quasars and pulsars therefore manifest themselves by a radiation pattern that can be described as having a dumbbell shape.

This widely dispersed matter is not generally regarded as an “object” in the same sense in which this term is applied to a quasar, but actually the two are identical in form, aside from the inversion of space and time. The quasars and pulsars are compact in space and spread out over a very large expanse of time. The radio-emitting dumbbell is compact in time and spread out over a very large expanse of space. Both of these kinds of objects are essentially nothing but expanding clouds of explosion products. The difference between them, as they appear to our observation, is due to the manner in which we are observing them; that is, we are able to detect changes of position in three dimensions of space, but our direct apprehension of time is limited to the scalar progression. We detect other motion in time only by its effect, if any, on spatial positions.

Deviations from the dumbbell pattern are caused by obstructions in the way of travel of the explosion products, by supplementary explosive activity, by vectorial motion of the galaxy of origin during the expansion stage, or by interaction with neighboring galaxies. The structure of the radio-emitting cloud of matter thus has a considerable amount of diversity, but the division into two somewhat symmetrical regions is generally apparent, except where a specific direction is imparted to the motion of the explosion products by escape through a single orifice.

Distant radio galaxies are subject to the same lateral displacement of the radio image that applies to the quasars, but this displacement is small compared to that resulting from the linear expansion of the explosion products, and it is generally obscured by elements of the structure due to that expansion. However, a noted in Chapter 22, both the large scale structure and the small scale displacements are observed in some cases.

The ultra high speed motion in the interiors of the giant galaxies is thermal motion, in which the directions of the motions of the individual particles are continually changing because of repeated contacts of the moving particles. When the galactic explosion occurs, those of the ultra high speed particles that escape from the galaxy are incorporated into the two major explosion products. Here the forces tending to confine this material are inadequate to accomplish total confinement, and the ultra high speed thermal motion is therefore gradually converted into ultra high speed linear outward motion. Thus both of the major products of the galactic explosion, the quasar and the radio galaxy, are ejecting the dumbbell type of radio-emitting clouds.

As brought out in the theoretical discussion in Chapter 15, the ultra high speed particles expanding into space in the combination jet and sphere pattern are moving at the same total speed as the pulsars. Thus their ultimate fate is the same. Except for a relatively small proportion that are slowed down sufficiently by environmental factors to reduce their speeds below the two-unit level, the individual particles of the expanding cloud of matter eventually cross the boundary and escape into the cosmic sector in the same manner as the pulsars and the quasars. The x-ray radiation from the relatively small number of particles that return to the lower speed ranges is too widely scattered to be observable. Optical radiation is visible only from entrained material in the early jet stage. The ultra high speed expansion is therefore primarily a radio phenomenon.

In addition to the components moving at less than unit speed, and the components moving at ultra high speed that have just been discussed, the products of the most violent explosions also include particles moving with intermediate speeds. As we have seen in the earlier pages, motion in this speed range (the speeds of the components of the white dwarfs) does not change the position in space. From a spatial standpoint, the particles that constitute this intermediate speed component are motionless. The spatial densities of the outward-moving material are high enough to carry most of this otherwise motionless matter with the streams, but some of it remains at the explosion site. In those cases where the size of this remainder is substantial, the radio emission pattern has three main centers rather than only two. Some of the entrained intermediate speed matter may also drop out of the stream during the jet stage, resulting in local concentrations of material, often called “knots,” in the jet.

The discussion of the cloud of ultra high speed matter that produces the dumbbell type of radio-emitting structure in this chapter completes the identification of the different types of motion combinations that are involved in the phenomena of the upper speed ranges. Summarizing these findings, it can be said that, although the objects included in this category show a wide diversity of shapes and sizes, all the way from tiny, but extremely dense, aggregates to very diffuse clouds of material spread out over vast regions of space, they can all be described as fast-moving clouds of matter, either clouds of particles or clouds of stars. The very diffuse objects are clouds of matter widely dispersed in space by the forces of the explosions. The very compact objects are clouds of matter widely dispersed in time by forces of the same kind.

The variations in the way in which these clouds appear to observation are due to the differences between motion in space and motion in time, and to the variability in the manner in which these different motions are distributed among the three speed levels of the material sector of the universe. The relations between the different kinds of observed objects are brought out clearly by the comparison in Table XVIII.

Here we see that all of the new type of objects discovered by the astronomers during the last few decades, from the rather commonplace supernova remnants to the “mysterious” quasars, are explosion products, differing in the way in which they appear to observation because some are aggregates of particles while others are aggregates of stars, and because there are variations in two properties of the motions of their components: the speed level (which determines whether the motion is in space or in time), and the motion distribution-unidirectional (linear) or random (expansion or contraction). An additional variation is due to the fact that some of these objects (the white dwarfs, for example) are single entities while others are combinations in which a relatively compact object, such as a radio galaxy, is associated with an extended cloud of material.

In this connection, it should be understood that expansion in time, like any other time motion, acts as a modifier of the spatial dimension of a cloud—that is, as a contraction in equivalent space—as long as the total motion of the object has a net spatial resultant. Thus, even though motion in time is not, in

TABLE XVIII
MOTION COMBINATIONS AT UPPER RANGE SPEEDS

Aggregates of particles Speed level
1 2 3
White dwarf—early   ET  
White dwarf—late   CT  
White dwarf remnant ES    
Pulsar—outgoing   ET LS
Pulsar—incoming   CT LS
Pulsar remnant      
Component A ES    
Component B   LT ES
Aggregates of stars      
Quasar   ET LS
Radio Galaxy LS    
Intermediate speed gas component   ET  
Associated radio cloud   LT ES
E expanding S in space
C Contracting T in time
L moving linearly  

itself, observable, the decrease in the size of an astronomical object due to expansion in time can be observed.

It is appropriate to emphasize that the explanations that emerge from the application of the Reciprocal System of theory to the extremely compact objects, and related phenomena, that have been brought within the scope of astronomical observation in very recent years, are not drawn from the land of fantasy in the manner of “black holes,” “degenerate matter,” and the like, but are simple and direct results of two aspects of motion that have not been recognized by previous investigators: motion in time and motion at speeds exceeding that of light.

When the full range of motions is recognized, the explanations of the newly discovered objects and phenomena emerge easily and naturally, each taking its specific place in the evolutionary pattern of the material sector of the universe. This characteristic of the theoretical development continues what has been one of the outstanding features of the previously described results of the application of the theory of the universe of motion to the astronomical field. Instead of being a collection of unrelated classes of entities, each originating under a special set of circumstances, all of the observed astronomical objects are found to have their definite places in an evolutionary path resulting from aggregation under the influence of gravitation.

We have seen, for instance, that the formation of stars and galaxies is not the result of hypothetical processes that operate only under very special conditions, as assumed in present-day astronomy. Instead, the formation of each class of objects takes place at the appropriate point in the evolutionary path as the direct result of gravitational aggregation, a process that is known to exist and to be operative under the conditions existing at the point of formation of the particular object. The situation with respect to the other phenomena that have been examined in the preceding pages is similar. It was not necessary to call upon processes that require the existence of special conditions of an unusual nature to explain the strong radiation at radio or x-ray frequencies that is received from certain classes of objects. Here again, the observed phenomena are explained by means of processes that necessarily take place at certain stages of the evolutionary development. Nor do we have to follow the astronomers’ practice of evading the task of accounting for such phenomena as the cataclysmic variables by calling them “freaks.” These phenomena have places on the evolutionary path that are just as specific as those of the better known astronomical objects.

The view of the newly discovered compact objects and other “puzzling” features of the large-scale activity of the universe that we obtain by applying the physical principles developed in the two preceding volumes of this work differs quite radically from the way in which these phenomena are portrayed in current astronomical theory. But when it is realized that the astronomical theories in these areas are based almost entirely on assumptions, it should be evident that such conflicts are inevitable. The astounding extent to which astronomical science has degenerated into science fiction will be described in Chapter 29. In the interim we will examine a few phenomena that were not taken up earlier because it was evident that they could be more conveniently considered after the role of the quasars and associated phenomena had been clearly defined.

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