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Earth Science Galaxy Formation Problems

Galaxy Formation Problems

The problem of galaxy formation lies in the idea that most cosmologists believe the big-bang universe began as a smooth distribution of matter, and now appears to have become clumpy with galaxies, super-galaxies, voids, clusters, walls, and sheets of galaxies etc. The question is how? Random non-uniformities (disruptions in the smoothness) in the expanding universe are not sufficient to allow the formation of galaxies. In the presence of the rapid expansion, up to the speed of light or faster, the gravitational attraction is too slow for galaxies to form with any reasonable model of turbulence created by the expansion itself. The question of how the large-scale structure of the universe could have come into being has been a major unsolved problem in cosmology. (1)

A solution to this problem has been proposed using the concept of Cold Dark Matter. Proponents believe if the dark matter is made up of exotic particles that are neither protons nor neutrons, but much heavier then at the time the universe was 300,000 years old, the gathering in of exotic matter could provide a mechanism for ordinary matter to grow more quickly. This dark matter (of unknown nature) would provide the “seeds” that were necessary to start the process of galaxy formation. Hence 15 billion years may have been long enough for the structures such as galaxies to form.

The scenario has achieved great success in explaining galaxy formation; in fact, it has been the most popular model. However, detailed study has revealed that the model suffers several serious drawbacks; for instance, it can explain galaxy distributions on either large scale (hundred of millions of light years) or small scale (several millions of light years) but not on both. (2) Quoting Corey S. Powell in Scientific American, 1992, “Some cosmological models incorporating cold dark matter can account for the existence of large clusters and super clusters of galaxies. Other models can explain the formation of individual galaxies. None can do both. The physicists have been enormously reluctant to accept what astronomy shows them,’ says Arno Penzias, who argues in favor of a less dense universe containing only ordinary matter. ‘Cold dark matter is dead.’ Peebles agrees.'” (3) The question of galaxy formation is still an open question, and may be the biggest challenge faced by cosmologists today. Essentially, there is no explanation for the formation of galaxies.

Cosmological Constant Problems

What is the “cosmological constant”? When Einstein first developed his theories of relativity he believed, that the universe was static (neither expanding nor collapsing). A different solution to Einstein’s equations by Alexander Friedmann seemed to indicate that the universe exists in a dynamic form – either expanding or collapsing. To return the universe to its “proper” static form, Einstein fudged the mathematics by adding a “cosmological constant.” (4)

This modification of his theory to achieve a stationary universe was abandoned by him, but lately others have tried to revive it. Meanwhile, Edwin Hubble, using a spectroscope determined that light coming from most galaxies was red-shifted. This means, by definition of the Doppler Effect, that these galaxies are moving away from us; expansion had been proven.

A brief description of the Doppler Effect is light coming from an object either moving away or towards an observer is shifted to a longer or shorter wavelength. Objects moving away are red-shifted (appear red), and objects moving towards you are blue-shifted (appear blue). Hubble did indeed demonstrate that galaxies moving away from us were red-shifted and were receding at incredible speeds never imagined before, and the farthermost galaxies were receding even faster than the closer ones. Einstein was unaware of Hubble’s expansion, and Hubble was unaware of Einstein’s fudge. Sometime later Einstein learned of Hubble’s discovery, and immediately accepted it, discarding his “cosmological constant”. (5)

However, to this day the cosmological constant has not gone away. The value of the constant has become dramatically smaller – and if asked, most cosmologists would likely have it disappear. Its very minuteness is now a problem bigger than any other in modern cosmology. What’s the problem? When astronomers add up all the visible matter and energy in the universe it comes to very much less than the critical value (a value determined mathematically – not by observation). Not all matter emits light, so it is believed that there is some “dark matter” in the universe. There may also be some “dark energy”. The modern cosmological constant is related to this dark energy. (6)

We speak of the vacuum of space. When looking at the universe we come up with a huge amount of “nothing” (or what appears to be nothing). However, the latest measurements indicate that the vacuum energy (energy in the nothingness), may contribute between 60 and 70 percent of the total; total being the total matter and energy in the universe. Our problem is that the theoretical estimates suggest that the value should be quite large, while the observational evidence indicates that the value is very small. (7) Cosmologists want to hang on to theoretical estimates, rather than deal with real observable evidence.

In May 1988, Professor Steven Weinberg gave the Morris Loeb Lectures in Physics at Harvard University under the title “The Cosmological Constant Problem.” He stated: “The discrepancy between the observed and predicted values for the energy density of the vacuum is greater than 118 orders of magnitude.” Weinberg referred his readers to a non-mathematical article in Scientific American by Larry Abbott, “The Mystery of the Cosmological Constant,” Scientific American, 258(5):82-88 (May 1988). The article said:

The stupendous failure we have experienced in trying to predict the value of the cosmological constant is far more than a mere embarrassment … Clearly our assumptions are spectacularly wrong. There must in fact be a miraculous conspiracy occurring among both the known and the unknown parameters governing particle physics … the small value of the cosmological constant is telling us that a remarkably precise and totally unexpected relationship exists among all the parameters of the standard model, the bare cosmological constant and unknown physics … the mysterious relation implied by the vanishing small value of the cosmological constant indicates that dramatic and revolutionary new discoveries … remain to be made. (8)

If the reader recalls the “flat universe” problem, there is a connection between the flat universe and the cosmological constant. In order to be flat, the cosmological constant needs to be “zero”. The question is one of fine-tuning: fine-tuning of the cosmological constant by 118 orders of magnitude, or the fine-tuning of the flatness problem of perhaps only 60 orders of magnitude. Fine-tuning in this sense is stretching the limits well beyond reason. Each time you have 1 order of magnitude you multiply by 10. Taking the number “10” up 3 orders of magnitude would change it to 1000; 4 orders, 10,000. By inspection, the universe is looking flatter, and the energy density due to the cosmological constant is now statistically well above zero. (9) Cosmologists continue to face dilemma after dilemma. Nothing appears to be what it should be and what ‘should be’ is itself, far from certain.

Red shift Problems

What is a red shift? Edwin Hubble in the late 1920s determined that light from galaxies was shifted towards the red. A shifting of light in this way means the wavelength has increased in length and appears to be red. Also, it means that an object, such as a galaxy, is moving away from us. A lowering of pitch can be experienced when a fire-engine passes you. As the vehicle moves past, the sound waves are stretched out, and these sound waves are heard at lower frequencies. This experience is known as the Doppler Effect.

Hubble found that a red shift was closely proportional to the distance to the galaxy; a relationship which became known as Hubble’s law. This law was used to provide evidence that the universe was expanding. BB theorists often call a red shift a Doppler shift. The general theory however describes the red shift being caused, not by galaxies moving through space, but by an expansion of space itself. Expansion of matter in the universe is subject to serious question, but much more so is the expansion of space.

The astronomer Halton Arp (10) has observe many pairs of galaxies that seem to be very close to each other, even physically connected, yet have greatly differing red shifts. This suggests that at least some of the red shifts have a cause other than motion. If some red shifts have a non-motion cause it is possible that most have such a cause, leaving us with a static universe. A static universe is one which is not expanding. (11)

Hubble’s red-shift distance was based on an analysis of only a few dozen galaxies. Newer, much more complete, statistical analysis of thousands of galaxies, depart significantly from Hubble’s linear law. Studies by I.E. Segal find that a quadratic relation, where the red shift varies as the square of the distance, gives a much better fit. This contradicts BB expansion and supports a static cosmology. (12) Could the red shift have some other, non-velocity cause? Other theories involve what is called “tired light”, or energy lost as light traveled through space, or a “gravitational red shift”; a condition resulting from gravity effects on energy coming from galaxies. John Byl in his book, God and Cosmos, lists twenty non-velocity red-shift mechanisms. (13) According to Mitchell, “tired light” theories have been advanced by a number of theorists. They believe in the presence of what they call an “ether”; matter; forces, or fields which in some manner cause red shifting. Some tired light advocates have claimed that all red shifting is due to tired light phenomena. However, they would be hard pressed to provide a satisfactory explanation for some astronomical observations, such as blue shifts of radiation from some stars within our galaxy, indicating that they are moving towards us at high velocity. (14)

Another problem is raised by Lerner. Red shifts indicate how fast an object is moving away from us. Red shifts increase with distance, but also with an object’s own speed, relative to the objects around it. It turns out that galaxies almost never move much faster than a thousand kilometers per second, about one-three-hundredth as fast as the speed of light. Thus, in the (at most) twenty billions years since the BB, a galaxy, or the matter that would make up a galaxy, could have moved only about sixty-five million light-years. But if you start out with matter spread smoothly through space, and if you can move it only sixty-five million light-years, you can’t build up objects as vast and dense as Tully’s complexes. (15) Tully’s complexes are vast clusters of stars, each one made up of dozens of super-cluster filaments containing millions of trillions of stars. The density within the ribbon is about twenty-five times that outside them. (16)

From the above we can see that the red shift problem is far from being solved. There is no doubt red shifting takes place, but we are far from determining how it is caused. Is our universe expanding, static, or in a state we have yet to determine? Scientists can spend their entire lives studying these things, to find in the end after many years, that their theory and their work must be abandoned. What a waste to be traveling this road that leads nowhere.

Quasar Problems

What is a quasar? When radio telescopes were first turned on the heavens, point sources of radio waves were discovered. Astronomers then turned visible-light telescopes toward these radio points to see what was there. Various objects were seen from the remnants of supernova, a star-birth region, and distant galaxies. In some instances only a point of light was seen, similar to what a star would look like. These objects were called “quasi-stellar radio sources”, or quasars. These objects could not be stars because they were too far away, well beyond any of the galaxies that were known. It is believed that quasars are the very bright centers of galaxies that are unseen, where some sort of energetic action is occurring, due possibly, to the presence of a supermassive black hole at the center. The spectrum of quasars are unusual. At first their absorption lines could not be identified. In 1963 Maarten Schmidt discovered that the absorption lines in the spectrum of quasar 3C273 were common ones, but shifted toward the red end of the spectrum by an extraordinary amount. Many quasars since then have been found having these large red shifts. (17)

Red shifts caused by the expansion of the universe are called cosmological red shifts. If the red shifts of quasars are cosmological, quasars are the farthest objects ever observed in the telescope. Furthermore, if quasars can be observed over such distances, their energy output must be enormous. (18)

Inconsistencies regarding the current interpretation of observed red shift present problems the BB Theory. Red shift data as presently used shows quasars to be “clumped” at great distances. According to the BB Theory, that would require the formation of large numbers of quasars too soon after the BB. That interpretation of data also results in the anomaly of quasars at various distances, and thus of various ages, that are observed to have similar electromagnetic spectrums. (19)

But perhaps even in greater conflict with BB Theory, the clumping of distant quasars in all directions would appear to put us at the center of the universe. This situation, known as the Copernican Problem, is in direct conflict with the basic BB Theory tenet of smoothness. (20) There are problems related to the cause of red shifting. Observational evidence indicates that the presently accepted interpretation of red shift data is to some degree erroneous. Observations over many years by highly regarded astronomers have shown many “companion galaxies” to have considerably higher red shifts than those of unmistakably neighboring galaxies. Most notable among those astronomers is Halton Arp, who has also provided considerable evidence that radiation from newly formed galaxies is in some manner red shifted by other than Doppler Effect. (21) Considering other interpretations, quasars might be found to be much closer and their velocity much lower, thus solving the perception of excessive brilliance, mass, density, and other problems. Hubble himself was not convinced that red shift was exclusively due to Doppler Effect. (22)

A super-massive black hole at the center of a galaxy is thought to provide the tremendous energy for a quasar. However, a recent report at the annual meeting of the American Astronomical Society indicates that only four out of the 15 quasars surveyed by the Hubble Space Telescope are associated with galaxies. (23) A team of astronomers/astrophysicists, including Geoffrey Burbidge and Halton Arp, published the discovery of a new quasar in the Astrophysical Journal. This quasar is embedded in the galaxy NGC7319 close to its center. The question to be asked is ‘Can a “Distant” Quasar Lie within a nearby Galaxy?’ (24)

According to the Hubble law, the galaxy NGC7319, with a red shift of 0.022, is about 360 million light-years from Earth. But since the quasar has a hundred times the galaxy’s red shift, it must be receding about a 100 times faster and be 30 times farther away. Arp has made a strong case that quasars that lie close to active galaxies are physically associated with those galaxies. He and others contend that the quasars have been ejected from the hearts of their parent galaxies. (25) BB theorists have a problem with these observations because they challenge their initial beliefs regarding how matter in the BB was first formed as well as their perception of distances and red shifting. We will likely find in the future, that present observations, such as noted by Halton Arp or Burbidge and others, struggling to understand the universe, will also be challenged by newer observations. Such is the plight of science today, forever shifting, adjusting, reinterpreting, and even starting over with new theories.


1. Trefil, James A., The Moment of Creation, MacMillan, 1983
3. Mitchell, pp. 98-99
4. Williams et al., p. 47
5. Ibid., pp. 48-49
6. Ibid., p. 110
7. Ibid., p. 111
8. Ibid., pp. 112-113
9. Ibid., p. 113
10. Byl, John, God and Cosmos, The Banner Of Truth Trust, 2001, p. 49
11. Ibid., p. 49
12. Ibid., p. 50
13. Ibid., p. 51
14. Mitchell, p. 132
15. Lerner, Eric J., The Big Bang Never Happened, Random House, 1991, pp. 23-24
16. Ibid., pp. 22-23
18. Ibid.
19., p. 29
20. Ibid., p. 29
21. Arp, H.C. “Fitting Theory to Observation From Stars to Cosmology” in Progress in New Cosmologies: Beyond the Big Bang, Plenum Press, NY, 1993
22., p. 30
23. Travis, J., “Massive Problem of Missing Dwarfs”, Science, 266: 1319-1320, 1994
24. Creation, Vol. 29 No. 2, March-May 2007 p. 24
25. Ibid., p. 25