The 1959 Predictions
Aside from the discussion of the pulsars and some matters of detail that have been clarified by recent studies, the essential elements of the contents of the preceding six chapters are all included in the first book of this series, The Structure of the Physical Universe, published in 1959. At that time the study of extra-galactic radio sources was still in its infancy; indeed only five of these sources had yet been located. The galactic collision hypothesis was still the favored explanation of the generation of the energy of this radiation; the first tentative suggestions of a galactic explosion were not to be heard for another year or two, and it would be three more years before any actual evidence of such an explosion would be found. The existence of quasars was unknown and unsuspected.
Under these circumstances the extension of a physical theory to a prediction of the existence of exploding galaxies and a description~ of the general characteristics of these galaxies and their explosion products was an unprecedented step. It is almost impossible to extend traditional theory into an unknown field in this manner, as the formulator of the conventional type of theory must have some experimental or observational facts on which to build, and where the phenomena are entirely unknown, as in this case, there are no known facts that can be utilized. A purely theoretical development, one that derives all of its conclusions from a set of basic premises without introducing anything from observation, is not limited in this manner. It is, of course, convenient to have observational data available for comparison, so that the successive steps in the development of theory can be verified as the work proceeds, but this is not actually essential. There are some practical limitations on the extent to which a theory can be developed without this concurrent verification, as human imagination is limited and human reasoning is not infallible, yet it is entirely possible to get a good general picture of observationally unknown regions by appropriate extensions of an accurate theory.
The situation which we are discussing in this present volume provides a very striking example of this kind, and before we undertake a theoretical survey of the field as it now stands after the discoveries that have been made possible by advances in equipment and techniques, it will be appropriate to examine just what the Reciprocal System of theory was able to tell us in 1959 about phenomena that had not yet been discovered.
We saw in Chapter IV that the structure of matter is such that it is subject to a temperature limit, and we later found that the normal course of evolution of the stars ultimately brings each of them up to that limit, causing the explosions known as supernovae. It was also brought out in the discussion of atomic structure that there is another destructive limit, in effect an age limit, the attainment of which likewise results in the disintegration of the material structure and the conversion of mass into energy. Inasmuch as aggregation is a continuous process in a universe where the controlling factor is gravitation, the oldest matter in that universe is in the location where the process of aggregation has made the most progress; that is, in the largest galaxies. Ultimately, therefore, each of the giant old galaxies must reach the second, or upper, destructive limit and terminate its existence in a violent explosion, or series of explosions.
At a time when there was no definite supporting evidence, this was a bold conclusion, particularly on the part of one who is not an astronomer and is reasoning entirely from basic physical premises. As expressed in the 1959 book,
While this is apparently an inescapable deduction from the principles previously established, it must be conceded that it seems rather incredible on first consideration. The explosion of a single star is a tremendous event; the concept of an explosion involving billions of stars seems fantastic, and certainly there is no evidence of any gigantic variety of supernova with which the hypothetical explosion can be identified.
The text then goes on to point out that some evidence of a different nature might be available, and that there actually was a known phenomenon that could well be the result of a galactic explosion, even though contemporary astronomical thought did not, at the time, view it in that light.
In the galaxy M 87, which we have already recognized as possessing some of the characteristics that would be expected in the last stage of galactic existence, we find just the kind of a phenomenon which theory predicts, a jet issuing from the vicinity of the galactic center, and it would be in order to identify this galaxy, at least tentatively, as one which is now undergoing a cosmic explosion, or strictly speaking was undergoing such an explosion at the time the light now reaching us left the galaxy.
In addition to predicting the existence of the galactic explosions, the 1959 publication also forecast correctly that the discovery of these explosions would come about mainly as the result of the large amount of radiation that would be generated at radio wavelengths. One of the prominent features of extremely violent processes affecting matter, especially if they involve atomic readjustments, is the emission of gamma rays. Both the supernova and the galactic explosion are therefore prolific sources of gamma rays. But these explosions are not confined to processes of the material type. As already explained, the matter of the stars and galaxies is so close to the dividing line just before the explosions occur that much of it is accelerated to greater-than-unit speeds, which reverse the familiar relationships of the material sector. The gamma rays of material origin have wavelengths in the vicinity of 10-17 cm. The natural unit of distance has been evaluated at approximately 105 cm, and the gamma ray wavelength is therefore in the neighborhood of low natural units. The wavelength of the inverse phenomenon, the cosmic gamma rays, is the reciprocal of 10-5 natural units, or 105 natural units, which is approximately 1 cm. Radiation at centimeter wavelengths is in the radio region, and the 1959 text therefore concluded that
Objects which are undergoing or have recently (in the astronomical sense) undergone such (extremely violent) processes are therefore the principal sources of the localized long wave radiations which are now being studied in the relatively new science of radio astronomy.
The inverse process by which, according to the theory, the radiation at radio wavelengths is generated reverses the normal distribution of energies; that is, such a process produces what is known as a “nonthermal” distribution: one in which the energy increases as the wavelength increases. It is therefore of interest to note that this is the kind of a distribution that is observed.
The radio energy emitted by most galactic and extragalactic radio sources increases in intensity with increasing wavelength. This is described as a non-thermal distribution of energy, because it is just the opposite of the distribution expected from a body of hot gas, such as a star. (D. S. Heeschen)24
Another point that was emphasized in the 1959 theoretical survey of the then unknown explosion phenomenon was that there would be two distinct kinds of explosion products. As in the supernova, one of these products would be accelerated to speeds greater than that of light, and the other would move outward in space at a speed less than that of light. Again quoting from the 1959 book:
When events of this nature take place at a regional boundary line it is logical to expect that some portion of the participating units will fail to acquire the necessary energy (or velocity) to proceed in the outward direction and will be dispersed backward. In the supernova explosion, for instance, we found that one portion of the stellar mass was blown forward into space whereas another portion was dispersed backward into time. Similarly we can expect to find a stream of particles issuing from the center of an exploding galaxy: a small replica of the large stream which is being propelled across the boundary line into time.
The predicted existence of these two different kinds of explosion products is of particular significance now, in view of the discovery of the quasars. Another item that has acquired special significance by reason of recent observational advances is the conclusion of the original theoretical study that the galactic explosion would resemble radioactivity, and hence could be expected to extend over long periods of time and to be of a periodic nature. The original description of the (at that time hypothetical) explosion process reads as follows:
The oldest stars, concentrated at the galactic center, reach the destructive limit of magnetic ionization simultaneously, just as the heaviest atoms, concentrated in the center of the star, simultaneously reach the destructive thermal limit. In each case the ensuing explosion propels the excess thermal or magnetic energy outward and the magnetic explosion is thus propagated through the mass of the galaxy just as the thermal explosion is propagated through the entire mass of the star. Although the two explosion processes are very similar in these and other respects there is one significant difference which was specifically pointed out in the original discussion of the destructive limits. The magnetic destructive limit does not involve cancellation of the magnetic rotational time displacement by an oppositely directed space displacement in the manner of the neutralization that takes place at the thermal limit, but is a result of reaching the upper zero point, the maximum possible magnetic time displacement. In other words, the galaxy and the star approach the zero limit of magnetic displacement from opposite directions. Thus the explosion of the galaxy is not a magnified supernova; it is an explosion of the inverse type: a cosmic explosion. In the ordinary explosion with which we are familiar a portion of the mass is converted into energy in a very short time, and this results in dispersal of the remainder of the aggregate over a large amount of space in a limited amount of time. In the cosmic explosion space and time are reversed. Here a portion of the mass is converted into energy in a very small space, and this results in the dispersal of the remainder of the aggregate over a large amount of time in a limited amount of space.
The theoretical conclusion that the largest galaxies are the oldest, and that, as a consequence, they are the ones that explode, has not been conclusively verified as yet, but current opinion leans in this direction. It was not found possible, on the basis of the theoretical development as it stood in 1959, to specify any criteria by which the galaxies actually in the process of explosive disintegration could be recognized, but in view of the long time scale of the inverse type of explosion, it was clear that galaxies in which the explosion process is under way should be visible in substantial numbers. The following comment was made:
As the explosion proceeds a steadily increasing portion of the galaxy is dispersed into time and is lost from view. There may be some difficulty in distinguishing a galaxy which is on the way down from one which is on the way up, but there should be some difference in appearance which we can learn to recognize.
The work of Halton Arp that will be discussed in Chapter IX has now furnished a clue that should at least help in the identification. His conclusion is that these galaxies are “peculiar.” This is a rather indefinite term, but apparently there is a certain type of “peculiarity” that is specific enough to be a strong indication of an explosion in progress.
Summarizing the discussion thus far in this chapter, we find that the theoretical study published in 1959 made the following predictions, explicitly or by implication:
- That exploding galaxies exist, and would presumably be discovered sooner or later.
- That radio astronomy would be the most probable avenue through which the discovery would be made.
- That the distribution of energies in this radiation at radio wavelengths would be non-thermal, or more accurately, the inverse of thermal.
- That the exploding galaxies would be giants, the oldest and largest galaxies in existence.
- That two distinct kinds of products would be ejected from the exploding galaxies.
- That one product would move outward in space at a normal speed.
- That the other, containing the larger part of the ejected material, would move outward at a speed in excess of the speed of light.
- That this product would disappear from view.
- That the explosions would resemble radioactive disintegrations, in that they would consist of separate events extending over a long period of time.
- That, because of the long time scale of the explosions, it should be possible to detect many galaxies in the process of exploding.
Some of these predictions have already been fulfilled. Most of the remainder receive considerable support from observational sources, and the additional confirmation required for their verification will be provided by the analysis carried out in Chapter IX. Discussion of the astronomical situation in the 1959 book was introduced by the following two paragraphs:
Theoretically it should have been possible to work out all of the foregoing development of the relations between the various components of the physical universe directly from the Fundamental Postulates by mathematical and logical processes without the necessity of checking the results against the actual properties of the existing universe at any stage of the development, and perhaps some one might have had the breadth of vision and the necessary infallibility to have accomplished the task in this manner, but as the work was actually performed each additional point that was established merely set the stage for a limited advance into new territory and a long period of checking against experimental results and reconciling the inevitable discrepancies was almost invariably required before the forward position was sufficiently well consolidated to support a new advance.
As indicated from time to time in the preceding pages there are a number of important physical properties and relationships which had to be omitted from this initial presentation because the detailed analyses of these subjects are still incomplete, and extending onward from the major relations covered in this work there is a never ending proliferation of subsidiary phenomena. In all of these areas, however, the general nature of the answers is clearly indicated by the principles already developed, and the remaining task is that of working out the details. In another direction we face a different situation. Beyond the frontiers of our present-day knowledge lies an area in which definite correlations with observation and measurement cannot be made because the established facts are too few and their significance is too uncertain. As in the earlier stages of the development of the theories previously outlined, however, we can extend the known principles a reasonable distance into the unknown field with some degree of assurance that the conclusions reached therefrom will be substantially correct in their general aspects, although past experience suggests that accuracy in every detail is unlikely.
The advance of knowledge in the past decade has greatly increased the “degree of assurance” that the conclusions reached in the 1959 work are “substantially correct in their general aspects,” even though the galactic explosions and associated phenomena were, at the time, “beyond the frontiers” of the known. This experience is a definite verification of the contention in the foregoing paragraph that the Reciprocal System of theory is capable of arriving at correct answers in fields that are as yet unknown, as well as in the more familiar areas.
In one respect, however, the 1959 study stopped just a step short of reaching an additional conclusion of considerable importance. Inasmuch as one of the products of the galactic explosion is accelerated to speeds exceeding that which light or other radiation travels, it was concluded that this component of the explosion products would be invisible. This is the immediate result so far as the dust and gas in the products are concerned, and it is the ultimate fate of all of the material ejected at extremely high speeds, but the point that was overlooked in the original investigation is that some, possibly most, of the material ejected by the galactic explosion comes out in the form of fragments of the galaxy—that is, small galaxies rather than as fine debris. These fragments are subject to strong gravitational forces, and even though the speeds imparted to them by the explosion may exceed the speed of light, the net speed after subtracting the oppositely directed gravitational speed will be less than that of light for a finite period of time. This means that although the fast-moving component of the explosion products will ultimately escape from the gravitational limitations and move off at a speed in excess of that of light, there is a substantial interim period in which these objects are accessible to observation. Here, of course, are the quasars, and this is how close the theoretical study came to identifying them years before they were found by observation; a point that is all the mare worthy of note in view of the fact that orthodox theory still has no plausible explanation of their existence. As the information presented in this chapter shows, the purely theoretical exploration of the galactic explosion phenomena carried out prior to 1959, and published in that year, well in advance of any observational discoveries in this area, supplied us with a large amount of information which, as nearly as we can determine on the basis of what is now known, is essentially correct. This is a very impressive performance, and it demonstrates the significant advantage of having access to a theory of the universe as a whole, independent of the accuracy—and even of the existence—of observational data in whatever area is under consideration.
In the next five chapters the results of the observations that have been made of the galactic explosion phenomena during the intervening decade will be examined in the light of this same structure of theory.