Cosmology Views

Arp's Misleading Quasar Sample

Halton Arp's book Seeing Red concentrated on quasars and their apparent quantized red shifts. After someone posted links to  videos of Arp's presentations, I revisited my copy of his book Seeing Red.

I have a different interpretation of quasars than Arp and now I know why.

The quasars mentioned in the book are low red shift quasars. Most are z < 1. Mistakes arise when using a poor sample of the object being studied.

Long ago, I found a Caltech study in 2000 with a "typical spectrum for a quasar" with z=1.34.

Its title is "Quasistellar Objects: Intervening Absorption Lines"
I assumed their spectrum was truly typical and I had no reason to check the set in Arp's book. I cited this Caltech study in my "Clarifying Redshifts" paper so it addressed a typical quasar.

This "typical quasar" has an important difference than the NGC 4258 quasars in Figure 1-2 in Arp's  book. This should be obvious in the 2 figures attached below.


Arp frequently mentions quasars and BL Lac objects.

Arp describes a BL Lac spectrum as one that washed out the hydrogen emission line which is observed with a quasa. Others concluded the BL Lac object simply has no emission lines. The distinction is important because the emission line, when present, is not directly connected to the AGN. Arp seems to treat BL Lac objects as a completely different class though they are nearly the same.

A 2002 study by BeppoSAX of both  types concluded their AGN was a source of synchrotron radiation, which means, though not stated, both types are a plasmoid.
The study concluded that was the source in the AGN, not its opposite which is thermal radiation, which would come from a not accretion disk, which means by this study, these objects have no black hole for their AGN.

A plasmoid generates a flat spectrum so any absorption or emission lines are from atoms in the line of sight. This was also the conclusion  of the Caltech quasar study cited in my "Clarifying Redshifts" paper.

excerpt from that Caltech paper:

The relatively flat quasar continuum and broad emission features are produced by the quasar itself. In some cases, gas near the quasar central engine also produces "intrinsic" absorption lines, most notably Lyalpha, and relatively high ionization metal transitions such as C IV, N V, and O VI. These intrinsic absorption lines can be broad [thousands or even tens of thousands of km/s in which case the quasar is called a broad absorption line (BAL) QSO], or narrow (tens to hundreds of km/s). However, the vast majority of absorption lines in a typical quasar spectrum are "intervening'', produced by gas unrelated to the quasar that is located along the line of sight between the quasar and the Earth.

(excerpt end)


The quasar study does not assign the red shift velocities of lines from gas atoms to the quasar. These velocities of atoms can reach thousands of km/s.

The study's  Figure 1 shows a prominent Hydrogen Lyman-alpha emission line red shifted. This atom in motion is not the same as the quasar.

The speed of light is 300,000 km/s so clearly it is a drastic mistake to assign any of these measured velocities of atoms to the quasar.

The phrase  "tens of thousands" could be close to the speed of light.

Figure 1 in the quasar study has z=1.34 as "typical" which is 402,000 km/s.

Few quasars are z > 6. In Arp's book, the highest red shift is z < 3. Many are z < 1.

The crucial reminder for the Doppler effect:
The motion of the light source affects its entire spectrum of radiation in all directions. If the direction in the line of sight is toward the observer a blue shift is observed; if the source is in the opposite direction a red shift is observed.

If the source spectrum is unaffected but only absorption lines or emission lines are shifted than those shifts are from those atoms not the source.

The linked page 11 has the book's  Figure 1-2.
The spectrum from NGC 4258 (or M106) is shown. This is a couble lobed radio galaxy so the two spectra are for the "East" and "West" lobes which are considered by Arp to be 2 quasars..

Each spectrum  identifies specific emission lines and their emitted wavelength.

It is clear how the z value in the figure was calculated for each lobe.

from East lobe:

Mg II line emitted  at 2798 Angstroms is observed at 4625 for z=0.653
Neon III line at 3869 Angstroms is at 6395 for z=0.653
H beta line at 4861 Angstroms is at 8053 for z=0.653
O III line at 5007 is at 8280 for z=0.653

from  West lobe:

Mg II line at 2798 Angstroms is at 3911 for z=0.398
H beta line at 4860 Angstroms is at 6795 for z=0.398
O III line at 5007 is at 7000 for z=0.398

All these atoms appear to have the same velocity toward the plasmoid.

The above velocities are consistent until the far right:

H alpha line at 1216 Angstroms is at 9100 for z=6.5

The East lobe had no H alpha line indicated but I suspect it is that peak near the right side with no element identified.
If it is then:

H alpha line at 1216 Angstroms is at 9300 for z=6.65

Both lobes indicate a similar quasar redshift z >  6 when using the hydrogen lyman-alpha emission line consistent with "typical" quasars.

All these emission lines are from atoms in motion separate from the plasmoid inside the quasar.

Arp's book assumes these lobes are  z= 0.653 and 0.398 which are lower than others could conclude.

For a comparison both Arp and  Caltech spectra are attached

A typical quasar has a prominent hydrogen emission line which is red shifted, known since 1963.

from brittanica:

 The puzzle was solved by the Dutch American astronomer Maarten Schmidt, who in 1963 recognized that the pattern of emission lines in 3C 273, the brightest known quasar, could be understood as coming from hydrogen atoms that had a redshift (i.e., had their emission lines shifted toward longer, redder wavelengths by the expansion of the universe) of 0.158. In other words, the wavelength of each line was 1.158 times longer than the wavelength measured in the laboratory, where the source is at rest with respect to the observer. At a redshift of this magnitude, 3C 273 was placed by Hubble’s law at a distance of slightly more than two billion light-years. This was a large, though not unprecedented, distance (bright clusters of galaxies had been identified at similar distances), but 3C 273 is about 100 times more luminous than the brightest individual galaxies in those clusters, and nothing so bright had been seen so far away.

(excerpt end)

The description is misleading because only one emission line is red shifted, the Hydrogen lyman-alpha line at 1216 Angstroms. This is the line used in a "typical" quasar for Caltech. The description implies many lines shifted the same but that interpretation is wrong.

Wikipedia's description is worse.

Conclusion: Arp was probably misdirected by the apparent low red shift quasars in the sample.

If the NGC 4258 quasars have wrong red shifts (the "featured" spectra) then the others in the sample probably do too.

I suspect the reason why the atom emission lines show a similar velocity for each quasar is these are ionized atoms so as plasma they would be moving together.

I will work on another post to cover the consequences for EU.

My post on February 27, 2020 was titled "Quasar Quandary"

By their video, Thunderbolts accepted Arp's mistaken conclusions and that is why I disagreed with the February Space News video about quasars.

Arp certainly made significant contributions to EU but there a a few details to discuss, in a later post to be written. This one is long enough.

Caltech's quasar figure

Arp's quasar figure