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Creation 29(2):24–27, March 2007

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Bye-bye, big bang?

An unsolvable riddle for the most popular view of evolutionary astronomy


A quasar with an enormous redshift has been found embedded in a nearby spiral galaxy with much lower redshift. This changes the whole view of the universe—big bang astronomy will never be the same. Why should this be so?

NASA Galaxy

Quirky quasars

There are certain objects we call ‘quasars’ (or Quasi-Stellar Objects (QSOs)) that have enormous redshifts (see below for explanation of redshifts). So by standard redshift interpretation, they are supposed to be at the very edge of the visible universe. To appear so bright at such enormous distances, they are speculated to be super-luminous black holes with a million or a hundred million times more mass than our sun, surrounded by a disk of material. Some of the material falls into the black hole, causing the emission of huge amounts of energy.

Quasar embedded in nearby galaxy

A team of astronomers/astrophysicists, including Geoffrey Burbidge and Halton Arp, published the discovery of the new quasar in the Astrophysical Journal.1 The enigma of this quasar is that it is embedded in the galaxy NGC 7319 very close to its centre (see figure 2).2 ‘Can A “Distant” Quasar Lie Within A Nearby Galaxy?’ asked the University of California, San Diego webpage that announced the discovery.3

NASA figure 2
Figure 2. Nearby spiral galaxy NCG 7319 with high red-shift quasar at arrow.

The object is from the class of ultra-luminous X-ray objects (ULX), so called because of the very high X-ray emissions. In this case, the quasar was found from its X-ray emission, then optically identified with the Hubble Space Telescope. ULXs have long been found in and near galaxies, but recently the Burbidges4 and Arp suggested they were quasars.

According to the Hubble law, the galaxy NGC 7319, with a redshift of 0.022, is about 360 million light-years from Earth. But since the quasar has a hundred times the galaxy’s redshift, it must be receding about a 100 times faster and be 30 times farther away.5 Therefore these objects could not be physically connected to each other if this was true.

Big bang theorists assert that the objects merely look close, because the quasar happens to be in the same line of sight as the galaxy, although billions of light years behind. However, Arp has made a very strong case that quasars that lie close to active galaxies are physically associated with those galaxies.6 He and others contend that the quasars have been ejected from the hearts of their parent galaxies.7 Creation of new galaxies via this mechanism has been suggested.

So, the newly discovered ULX quasar is not accidentally aligned due to a projection effect, because it is seen to be interacting with gaseous material in its host galaxy. A very strong outflow of gas is detected, consistent with the ejecting quasar carrying material with it. And the outflow is projected out towards the observer (see figure 3).

Big bang busted

NASA figure 3
Figure 3. V-shaped jet clearly seen entrained behind the ejected quasar.

So, why do big bang theorists vigorously reject Arp’s interpretation that quasars were ejected from galaxies, although it is based on observation? Because it utterly demolishes their key assumption of how matter was first formed in the big bang. It also calls into question many distances determined by quasar redshifts.

In the section ‘Alternatives to the big bang’ in his book,8 Professor Joseph Silk … admits, ‘Only by disputing the interpretation of quasar redshifts as a cosmological distance indicator can this conclusion be avoided’ [my emphasis added]. This is, in fact, the main thrust of Arp’s observations. They cast enormous doubt on the distribution of galaxies in the universe and the interpretation of big bang expansion models.9

However, the observations do fit with a recent creationist model for the origin of the heavenly bodies. In this model,7 the quasars were ejected from active galaxies in a grand creation process, and that we are now seeing, through high-power telescopes, the creation process of Day 4 of Creation Week. This model overturns the usual interpretation of redshifts. That is, quasar redshift distances are not cosmological (i.e. caused by the cosmos receding at huge distances) but instead are intrinsic (caused by something within the quasar itself).

In this new model, though Day 4 lasted only 24 hours by Earth clocks, it might have lasted a long time in cosmological years, i.e. as measured by cosmological clocks. It is just a weird fact of Einstein’s relativity that time can run differently for different observers at different locations and times.10 Therefore the cosmos was created in just 24 hours on the fourth day of Creation Week. So we are seeing back in time through our telescopes to events that occurred during Day 4.

The big bang today relies on a growing number of hypothetical entities, things that we have never observed—inflation, dark matter and dark energy are the most prominent examples. Without them, the observations made by astronomers fatally contradict the ‘predictions’ of big bang theory.11,12 Such continual appeal to new fudge factors to bridge the gap between theory and observation would not be tolerated in any other branch of physics. Rather, physicists would question the underlying theory.


So the lesson is this. If you hang your theological hat on the big bang because the majority believes it, you will be embarrassed when it falls. This quasar is just one more thorn in the side of those who believe in the ruling paradigm. However, many experts don’t, and expect the weight of the anomalies to eventually sink it.

Instead, let’s trust in the One Who made it all—His words are spirit and life, and we’ll never be dismayed (John 1:1–3, 6:63; cf. Luke 9:26).


NASA Andromeda galaxy
Andromeda galaxy
NASA Figure 1.
Figure 1. Idealized galaxy spectra showing typical ‘absorption’ lines (black against a rainbow-coloured background) produced by hydrogen atoms absorbing light (log scale). The faster an object is receding, the greater the redshift (shift to the right on this diagram), and Hubble’s Law states that redshift is proportional to distance (for small redshifts).

If objects are moving very fast, we can measure this by a change of colour in the light we observe. This effect is better known with sound: if a train whistles, you will notice a sharp drop in pitch as the train passes you and speeds away. When the train is moving towards you, you hear a higher pitch (frequency) than when the train is standing still. But when it’s moving away, you hear a still lower pitch. This is called the Doppler effect after the Austrian physicist Christian Doppler (1803–1853).

With light, we can likewise see the change of frequency as a colour change. If an object is moving towards you, you can measure a higher frequency or blueshift, and if it is receding, then we see a lower frequency or redshift (see figure 1).1

Edwin Hubble (1889–1953) discovered that in general for galaxies, the greater the redshift, the greater the distance from us, now called the Hubble Law. Because he determined their distances by an independent means,2 he was able to confirm that the law worked for the bright spiral galaxies. The idea has now been extrapolated to all objects in the universe, and is an essential part of big bang models.


  1. The modern view is that the greater component of a redshift is ‘cosmological’, caused by expansion of space itself (called Hubble Flow), not the Doppler effect. But there is no observational way to distinguish them.
  2. Hubble used Cepheid Variables, researched by the deaf Christian astronomer Henrietta Leavitt (1868–1921), and the redshift data of Vesto Slipher (1875–1969).

Posted on homepage: 28 April 2008

References and notes

  1. Galianni, P., Burbidge, E. M.,Arp, H., Junkkarinen, V., Burbidge, G., Zibetti, S., The discovery of a high redshift X-ray emitting QSO very close to the nucleus of NGC 7319, Astrophysical Journal 620(1):88–94, 2004, also preprint at <arxiv.org/abs/astro-ph/0409215, v1>, 9 September 2004. Return to text.
  2. 8 arcminutes; 60 arcminutes = 1°. Return to text.
  3. McDonald, K., Discovery by UCSD astronomers poses a cosmic puzzle: can a ‘distant’ quasar lie within a nearby galaxy? 10 January 2005. Return to text.
  4. Geoffrey and Margaret, a husband-and-wife team who are both distinguished astronomers in their own right. They were colleagues of Sir Fred Hoyle (1915–2001), who first coined the term ‘big bang’ in derision. Return to text.
  5. Hubble’s Law states that redshift is directly proportional to distance. But this is an approximation that is valid only for small redshifts, not the huge redshifts of quasars. Return to text.
  6. Arp, H., Seeing Red: Redshifts, Cosmology and Academic Science, Apeiron, Montreal, 1998; Arp, H. Quasars, redshifts and controversies, Interstellar Media, Cambridge University Press, Berkeley, California, 1987; Arp, H., Companion galaxies: a test of the assumption that velocities can be inferred from redshift, Astrophysical Journal 430:74–82, 1994; Arp, H. The distribution of high-redshift (z>2) quasars near active galaxies, Astrophysical Journal 525:594–602, 1999. Return to text.
  7. Hartnett, J.G., Quantized quasar redshifts in a creationist cosmology, Journal of Creation 18(2):105–113, 2004. Return to text.
  8. Silk, J., The Big Bang, W.H. Freeman and Co., New York, 2000. Return to text.
  9. Hartnett, J.G., The heavens declare a different story! Journal of Creation 17(2):94–97, 2003. Return to text.
  10. Humphreys, R., Starlight and Time, Master Books, Arkansas, USA, 1994. This was the pioneering creation model based on relativistic time dilation. Journal of Creation has published a number of papers that refine, update and sometimes correct Dr Humphreys’ original model. Return to text.
  11. Wieland, C., Secular scientists blast the big bang: What now for naïve apologetics? Creation 27(2):23–25, 2005; creation.com/bigbangblast, based on Cosmology statement. Return to text.
  12. Also, although the cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation is supposed to be proof of the big bang, recent evidence of the lack of the right shadows shows that CMB cannot be from the big bang at all. Return to text.