Cosmic Background Radiation

20 Jun 2012

At ... are echoes of the Big Bang misinterpreted? Gerrit Verschuur, author and radio astronomer, has proposed that some of the the fine structures seen in the 'all sky' plot of the universe, and assumed to be cosmic microwave background, is really the imprint of our local interstellar neighbourhood. It has nothing to do with how the universe looked 380,000 thousand years after the Big Bang - the consensus view. It is rather how nearby clouds of of old hydrogen looked just a few hundred years ago.

The idea is considered almost poison - certainly 'unbelievable', as far as some cosmologists are concerned. Many of them have simply ignored Verschuur's work - it is too controversial for the faint hearted. Verschuur's radio maps of hydrogen surrounding our local stellar neighbourhood back a few hundred light-years away appear to have an uncanny resemblance to the mottled structures of the cosmic microwave background, supposed to date as far back as 13.7 billion light-years away.

If Verschuur's theory is correct the consequences would cause a big rethink - especially as the current view of the power spectrum appears to fit 'theoretical' predictions. That is how the consensus sometimes works, the way the evidence crumbles. First comes the theory and then the evidence - or interpretation of the evidence. Verschuur claims he came across the resemblance by 'observation' - not by theory, the opposite of the consensus view. Needless to say this has not stopped attempts to debunk Verschuur and one appeared in the 2007 edition of The Astrophysical Journal - but the outcome was that it was a coincidence as the observation did indeed resemble cosmic background radiation. In spite of this the theory still dominates even after they saw what Verschuur saw - they just did not believe their own eyes. A new mapping of the universe is planned and hopefully either the theory will be put to bed - or Verschuur will concede he was wrong.

At June 18th ... the Spitzer Space Telescope has discovered four red galaxies that lie 13 billion light-years from Earth and they appear to be inter-acting with each other. This activity, it appears, is two jets streaming from one of the galaxies and naturally assumed to be issuing out of a black hole.