08 July 2006

Stephan's Quintet's Surprising QuasAR

Stephan’s Quintet is surprising already: it’s a bunch of five galaxies which seem to be connected and interacting in various ways. To add to this, it seems that at least one galaxy of the five is harbouring a high-redshift QuasAR, a “QUASi-stellAR” object which glows like a star but varies — & has a redshift typical of stars much, much further away.

The article mentions that said QuasAR is interacting with gases within the galaxy, which speaks quite strongly against a simple mistake with distances.

This is interesting particularly becuse of the many exciting changes which will befall astronomy if redshifts do in fact vary in this manner.

Some scientists will be petrified about this because of the potential for massive changes — possibly in politically-incorrect ways — but the key or important point is that science can’t grow until earlier concepts are admittedly incomplete. Other scientists will be more adventurous; so: science will grow, our understanding of how the universe works will also develop for the better if this turns out to be indeed different & correct.

It’s like ordinary farming: you must plow before planting your next crop. Or business: you won’t tear up your current methods unless you clearly have better replacements available.

So this could be a big conceptual plow — an astronomical business opportunity — sitting out there in the Quintet. I guess we’ll find out, eventually. (-:

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