(This note is an excerpt from chapter two: The Hubble Universe in the book, The Static Universe by Hilton Ratcliffe, C. Roy Keys 2010)
Before we move on to other pastures and fresh contemplation, we should discuss the “subsequent work” so often alluded to but seldom decently identified in articles and papers about the Hubble Law. Surely there have been more recent tests, using modern equipment? Indeed there have; several in fact. All those that I have seen are unanimous in their support for the Hubble Law and concomitant expansion. Did the later redshift-luminosity data succeed where Hubble’s original effort had failed? That question haunted me. The way to check it out would come to me quite unexpectedly on a dark and windy night in the mountains. Professor Paul Jackson, a retired physicist and trusted confidant, lives in an intriguing, charmingly Heath-Robinson, self-built home on the inland slope of KwaZulu-Natal’s Karkloof range. From time to time I visit him there, usually to take advantage of some fresh mountain air, good farm cooking, and solid advice.
The night in question was Dickensian in its misery. The freezing wind howled through the whipping pines behind us, and anyone outside must have been convinced that ice, not fire, would signal Armageddon. Inside though, I was as snug as a bug in a rug, quite unaware of the impending epiphany. My bedroom doubled as Paul’s study, and I was delighted by the prospect of exploring his pregnant bookcase. I pulled a large, dog-eared book from the shelf and settled down to read.
One of the standard texts in the field is the definitive volume The Principles of Physical Cosmology by eminent Princeton physicist Dr Jim Peebles.[1] The context of what follows will be taken from Dr Peebles’ concise summary of the expansion concept on page 71: “The expansion of the universe means that the proper physical distance between a well-separated pair of galaxies is increasing with time, that is, the galaxies are receding from each other. A gravitationally bound system such as the Local Group is not expanding … the homogeneous expansion law refers to galaxies far enough apart for these local irregularities to be ignored.” There you have it, in a nutshell, from the pen of one of the most revered spokesmen of consensus cosmology. Expansion, and indeed any consistent sign of it, can only exist at extremely great but apparently indeterminate distances.
Like the persistent whine of a determined and hungry mosquito, the notion of non-locality hovered subliminally in the recesses of my mind, and as we shall soon see, improperly tinted my spectacles on this occasion. On page 50 of that book, figure 3.13 is a graphical representation of the correlation in a sample of elliptical galaxies of their velocity dispersion (represented by σ, the Greek letter sigma) with their apparent luminosity.[2] There is, without doubt, a linear trend through the scatter of data points in the plot, so for the sake of argument, let’s assume that there is a real trend in the data. Theory relates velocity dispersion to cluster mass, and mass in a body of incandescent stars is proportional to intrinsic brightness (because, simply put, more mass means more stars, and therefore more light). What does this actually tell us? Certainly not what I thought at the time, and somewhat less than Dr Peebles implies.
My weariness must have blurred my concentration somewhat, because (as Paul later pointed out) I mistakenly took the diagram to represent a direct extrapolation of the relationship Hubble tried to establish in 1929 (redshift versus measured brightness of galaxies), whereas Dr Peebles plots the velocity dispersion of stars within galaxies without invoking redshift of the galaxies themselves. It doesn’t particularly worry me that I made a mistake; I often do, and gladly admit my error as soon as it is revealed to me. In this case, it was the principle involved that pitched a curve ball at the science I was tracking, and gave me a positive clue to the Achilles’ heel of redshift cosmology.
I consider it vital that we take due cognisance of a pervading habit in any zealous search for observational evidence. This treatment of observationally acquired data sets has haunted relativistic cosmology since its inception: Commencing with the eclipse data reported by Sir Arthur Eddington in 1919 [3] and punctuating the development of Big Bang Theory all the way through to the latest claims being made in the first decade of the 21st century, evidence is somehow found in observational measurements that either does not meaningfully exist in the unadulterated data, or if a pattern is found, does not refer to or in any way validate the preferred theoretical model. Objectively inconclusive results are given meaning that closer analysis reveals to be pointing in another direction completely. It’s a dangerous game. Like a cornered dog, synthetic evidence can bite you, and in the case of establishing a trend of luminosity versus redshift, it bit. What I needed to do was find the wound. I did find it, some time after my return from the Jacksons, and further careful inspection of my own copy of The Principles of Physical Cosmology provided the crucial and long-sought breakthrough.
What struck a chord for me was that the galaxies in Dr Peebles’ sample are ellipticals from the Virgo and Coma clusters. We all know that the postulated expansion of space does not occur locally, and “local” includes the Virgo cluster and almost certainly also the Coma cluster. With unsubstantiated optimism, the standard theory alludes to a threshold for expansion at around 100 Mpc from the Earth, meaning that for the first 350 million light years or so, space does not expand. Any perceived pattern in these data cannot indicate expansion, in terms of Big Bang Theory. This would be an utter train smash for the Hubble law if only I could find proof in the form of a published data table or graph.
It wasn’t hard. It’s right there in black and white on page 86 of Dr Peebles’ book. Figure 5.4 bears the caption, “Test of Hubble’s law using Tully-Fisher distances.” [4] Before we continue, I wish to acknowledge Dr Peebles’ self-deprecating honesty in the statement, “The distances in figure 5.4 are expressed in megaparsecs, but this is based on the still somewhat controversial calibration of the absolute magnitude-δν21 relation”.[5] We shall be discussing this controversial uncertainty in the next chapter.
The plot in the diagram shows the Hubble relationship established in the supposed redshift-distance correlation for a sample of galaxies in the vicinity of an object popularly identified as the Great Attractor. Although it has never been seen (it would in any event be obscured by the Milky Way’s disk), it has been invoked to explain the peculiar streaming motion of galaxies in the neighbourhood. A team led by Lyndon-Bell discovered in 1988 that peculiar velocities in this region are puzzlingly large, around 600 km sec-1 for the entire Local Group, and this could only be explained by the presence of an extremely massive object somewhere in the direction they were headed (Aside: this also caused a bad headache elsewhere in consensus cosmology, because the anisotropy—a local effect—shows up persistently in the CMBR, which of course is expressly forbidden by underlying theory).
The crucial significance of this geographical location is twofold: Firstly, it is local (all galaxies on the plot are <100 Mpc); and secondly, the presence in this locale of a structure massive enough to divert entire clusters of galaxies from the mooted Hubble flow is in defiance of the Cosmological Principle, and therefore rules out Hubble expansion in the region being observed. Despite the fact that all parties to the debate would agree that the galaxies represented in the graph occupy a volume of space that is definitely not expanding, Professor Peebles is quite clear in his conclusion about this particular plot: “We see that, even with the anomaly in the direction of Centaurus, Hubble’s law is quite a good description of the redshift-distance relation.” [6]
There you have it. Bingo! The Hubble law shows up in non-expanding space, and would therefore manifest in a static Universe. Hubble’s 1929 discovery and all the subsequent developments upon it are clearly invalid as indicators of universal expansion. As I perused further in The Principles of Physical Cosmology, I quickly saw that there is an abundance of such observational evidence refuting the notion of redshift-verified expansion, but of course I need only one substantive example to make my point.
At the risk of labouring the point, here’s the principle: Any correlation in observational data, perceived or real, between redshift and brightness cannot be taken to indicate expansion if it is also seen in static space. In fact, by their own logic, Standard Model theorists should concede that observationally, a linear relationship between the redshift of local galaxies and their apparent luminosities indicates quite the opposite: A static universe, not an expanding one.
[1] P J E Peebles The Principles of Physical Cosmology (Princeton University Press, 1993).
[2] Velocity dispersion is the spread of velocities of stars or galaxies in a more or less spherical cluster. It is estimated from the radial velocities of selected component objects in the group, and once established can give the cluster mass by means of the virial theorem.
[3] In my opinion, it is argued with merit that it started well before Eddington’s blatantly censored Principe and Sobral eclipse data. The Michelson-Morley experiment of 1887 is a case in point. However, we cannot afford to be distracted by peripheral arguments right now.
[4] The Tully-Fisher relation is a robust correlation between internal rotational velocity in spiral galaxies (a function of stellar abundance) and their intrinsic luminosity. See chapter 5 for further discussion.
[5] The term δν21 refers to the width of the atomic hydrogen 21cm radio line from the galaxy disk, a standard measure of rotation.
[6] P J E Peebles, op cit.

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