Spiral 0313-192: The Right Kind of Galaxy

Spiral galaxy 0313-192 with its radio continuum lobes superimposed

The NASA website, in 2003, announced the discovery of radio lobes being found around the edge on spiral galaxy 0313-192.  They claimed that this was “the wrong kind of galaxy” for such radio lobe features to be seen in, noting that radio lobes are normally instead seen in giant elliptical galaxies.

I would counter this by saying, “No, this is the right kind of galaxy in which to expect to see radio lobes.”  In fact, back in 1983, in chapter 2 of my Ph.D. dissertation I pointed out that on occasion one should expect to see radio lobes around edge-on spirals extending approximately perpendicular to their galactic plane.  For those who have not had the opportunity, I recommend reading this reference which currently is available in expanded and updated form as the book Galactic Superwaves and their Impact on the Earth.  A brief explanation is also given in Appendix B of my book Earth Under Fire.

In my thesis I had taken the example of Centaurus A.  There I pointed out that Centaurus A is actually an edge-on spiral galaxy that has an ellipsoidal appearance because its high latitude gas is scattering visible emission from the core which is not seen at the galaxy’s equator due to the light attenuating effects of its edge on “spiral arm” dust lane.

Centaurus A with its inner radio lobes superimposed

Centaurus A is the nearest galaxy to us which is observed to have an active galactic nucleus.  The reason why we see it surrounded by light is because its nucleus is currently seen in its active state, as verified by the intense gamma and x-ray emission coming from its core.  When its core activity shuts off, this galaxy will once again appear as an edge on spiral galaxy having little or no activity at its core.  However, the cosmic rays forming its radio lobes will nevertheless continue propagating outward from the core beaming their synchrotron radio emission in our direction, just as galaxy 0313-192 is doing.  Thus 0313-192 would be an example of a spiral galaxy whose core Seyfert activity has recently shut off.  Evidence that this radio emission was associated with its core can be seen in this blow up image which shows a radio emission jet emanating from the galaxy’s core.

Close up of edge-on spiral galaxy 0313-192 showing a radio emission jet coming from its core.

Radio lobes are also seen flanking the edge-on spiral galaxy M82 seen below.

Edge-on spiral galaxy M82. The red lobes extended above and below its plane are radio emission lobes.

So, the discovery of spiral radio galaxy 0313-192, showing evidence of past cosmic ray emission from its core, is far from unexpected.  It in fact confirms the evolution sequence I had posited in 1983 where an edge-on active galaxy would evolve from a giant elliptical form to an edge-on spiral form as its core activity subsided.

For more information about this confirmed prediction and why an edge-on spiral galaxy would generate radio lobes in this fashion, see the above two cited books.

Paul LaViolette


Update on gamma/X-ray source GRB 110328A: Still active

The X-ray flux graph below shows the latest update for gamma/x-ray source GRB 110328A (J164449.3+573451).

X-ray flux for source J164449.3+573451

The average x-ray luminosity during its first day (up to s = 104 seconds) was estimated to be 2.5 X 1047 ergs/s (see earlier posting) source Almeida and De Angelis.  Since then, seven and a half months have elapsed and its intensity has declined about 30 fold.  So its luminosity can now be stated to average around 1046 ergs/s.

This is still in the energy range of a quasar, quasars typically having luminosities in this part of the x-ray spectrum ranging from 1043 to >1047 ergs.  To counter an opinion posted in August on physorg, this point should be further clarified.  One person claimed that I was overstating to term this source a quasar having an x-ray luminosity at the upper end of the quasar luminosity range.  I still stand by this.  To give a reference published in Monthly NoticesJames Reeves and Martin Turner (2008) state on page 5 of their paper that the quasar x-ray luminosity extends from “1041 erg/s for the least luminous Seyfert 1 to ~1047 ergs/s for the most luminous quasars.”  The intensity of GRB 110328A has declined considerably from what it was during its first day, but still at 1046 ergs/s it should rate as a moderately strong quasar.

Also the criticism was aired that the the high energy spectrum for this source does not match that of a quasistellar object.  In fact, Bloom et al. (2011) compare the emission of GRB 110328A to that of a blazar which is a particular kind of quasar.  So, again my original claim still stands.

The main point to consider is that this source is still active now after seven and a half months.  Almeida and De Angelis who first proposed that this was a black hole snacking on a star predicted that the source should fade out after at most a few months.  Indeed, its intensity is dimishing, but it has now lasted more than three times longer than what the snack theory had expected and is still going strong as a moderately luminous quasar.  I think it is time that the black hole snack theorists should admit defeat.  Invoking a repeating series of ongoing snacks also seems far fetched considering that this source is emitting a wind of relativistic particles.  Also, in August 2011 the radio-emitting region was reported to be expanding at half the speed of light implying a rapid matter outflow from the source.

The power source for quasars remains a mystery in conventional astrophysics given its inability to explain how matter would accrete against the force of such a wind.  To date the only feasible explanation is that proposed over 25 years ago by the subquantum kinetics physics methodology.

Paul LaViolette

Gamma/X-ray source GRB 110328A still active

In response to Nick Darby’s comment on the previous post, a few days ago I checked with one of the Swift team astronomers, Jamie Kennea, who said that the source is “still well detected.” Swift observes this source daily and posts the data on the following page on their website (http://swift.gsfc.nasa.gov). Enter 110328A in the homepage search box and refer to found links. As seen from the X-ray light curve posted at http://www.swift.ac.uk/xrt_curves/00450158/, the source is still very active with no indication it is dying down, as some astronomers had expected; see graph below.

BAT X-ray intensity from GRB 110328A as of May 10, 2011

This shows that as of the date of this May 10th posting quasar source GRB 110328A has been active for one and a half months. So time is rapidly running out for the black hole snack theory. Those wishing to follow its progress on the Swift website, note that the source is also referred to as Swift J164449.3+573451.

GRB 110328A: First ever observation of a newly formed quasar!

Nascent Quasar GRB 110328A

When a formerly quiescent galactic nucleus is observed by astronomers to suddenly begin radiating high energy emission, it is probably natural for them at first to avoid interpreting the sighting as the birth of a quasar and instead propose something on a far smaller less dramatic scale.  Knowing very well the psychology of his astronomer peers, Sir Fred Hoyle forsaw a similar sighting downplay in his science fiction story The Inferno (1973). His story was about astronomers first sighting the explosion of our own galactic nucleus, its sudden activation into the quasar state.  A passage from his book describes how some members on the astronomical discovery team at first wrongly concluded that what they had discovered was a supernova explosion:

“Except this supernova does seem unusually bright,” interjected Tom Cook.
“Has brightened up still more,” announced Bill Gaynor, who had just come in. “Didn’t go to bed. I stayed up till it rose—in the east, about an hour ago.”
“What is it now?”
“I’d say about minus eight.” [25 times brighter than Venus]
There was a whistle around the common room.
“More like a bloody quasar than a supernova,” muttered someone.
A long silence followed this remark. It was broken by Almond. “Which would explain something that’s been worrying the hell out of me.”
“What’s that, Dr. Almond?” Gaynor asked, his eyes red with lack of sleep.
“Why the position of the thing is so precisely the same as the Galactic center. It’s obvious really, isn’t it? The center of the Galaxy has blown up.” Almond’s deep voice was grave as he made this pronouncement.

The Inferno, Sir Fred Hoyle and Geoffrey Hoyle
passage quoted in Earth Under Fire by P. LaViolette

We may be seeing the same sequence of events playing out in real life with the discovery of the source GRB 110328A which may actually prove to be a quasar, the first ever to be seen turning on.  The initial appearance of this X-ray and gamma ray source was first detected by the Swift telescope on March 28, 2011.  It was found to be located at the center of a galaxy in the constellation of Draco situated about 3.8 billion light years away (z = 0.35).

Seeing that the source continued its highly energetic activity even days afterward, astronomers began to realize that what they had been observing was something other than a mere gamma ray burst (GRB).  Most gamma ray bursts, on the other hand, last from a minute or so to several hours at most.  But in seeking an alternate interpretation, astronomers have leaned towards the less dramatic and proposed that we are observing a “supermassive black hole” that is in the process of tidally disrupting and consuming a passing star.

For example, on April 14th, after the source had been active for over two weeks, astronomers Almeida and De Angelis proposed just this in a paper they had submitted for publication to Astronomy and Astrophysics journal.  They propose that we are seeing a black hole having a mass of ~107 solar masses ripping apart and consuming a red giant star of mass 0.5 to 5 solar masses which had happened to orbit too close to it.  They state that if their theory is correct, we should expect that the intense X-ray emission from GRB 110328A to not last more than a few weeks to a few months, i.e., the time taken for the red giant star’s mass to become completely consumed.  In fact in their April 14th paper to Astronomy and Astrophysics, they state that the emission should be seen to begin to fade within a few days to a few months.

Now more than a week has passed since the date they posted their paper, so the predicted lower limit of a “few days” has been well exceeded.  If the source continues its current variable activity after a few months from now, then like Dr. Almond in Hoyle’s novel, astronomers will be forced to consider the inevitable, that what we are seeing is more like a “bloody quasar” than the transitory burp of a black hole!

I predict that GRB 110328A is a quasar and that we just happen to be viewing it at a point in its cycle when it has happened to turn on.  I would prefer not to call it a supermassive black hole as has become customary in astronomy for the reason that I don’t believe in the existence of black holes.  I prefer to use the more neutral term galactic core or alternatively supermassive mother star.  Here are some facts to consider that favor the interpretation that GRB 110328A is a quasar:

1) the X-ray emission is coming from the exact center of the host galaxy, hence from its core.  Similarly, quasars are known to be galactic nuclei in their active state, hence a galactic core observed during its active phase.

2) the average long-term emission coming from GRB 110328A is seen to have an intensity in the range of what is observed to come from a quasar.  That is, quasars typically have X-ray luminosities that range from 1043 to 1048 ergs/s whereas Almeida and De Angelis report that this object has an average X-ray luminosity of about 2.5 X 1047 erg/s.  So GRB 110328A is near the upper end of the quasar luminosity range.

3) Whereas the X-ray luminosity from quasars is observed to erratically vary by many fold over a period of anywhere from hours to weeks, similarly the emission from GRB 110328A has been observed to vary erratically on a timescale of a few hours to a day, very similar to a more rapidly varying quasar.

4) Like a quasar, GRB 110328A emits synchrotron radio emission.  Radio emission from this source was reported on April 11th by Brunthaler et al.

X-ray intensity light curve for source GRB 110328A

X-ray intensity lightcurve for quasar PDS 456.

Considering that we may be observing for the first time the onset of a quasar, there are several interesting things that we can learn from GRB 110328A.
First we can get an idea about the rapidity of the onset of the quasar state.  The observed event occurred without prior warning and reached maximum intensity within 15 minutes.  I have previously stated that we could expect a similar sneak attack from the core of our own Galaxy.  (GRB 110328A instead lies several billion light years away.  So we need not worry about it.)
Second, when it initially turned on, its luminosity was about 20 times greater than the value it attained days later.  At its initial onset it achieved a luminosity of around 5 X 1048 ergs/s in two peak events separated a day apart.  Hence in its first days it would have been one of the most luminous quasars in the sky.  This is very significant.  For it implies that a first strike from our own galactic core may deliver its most deadly effects in the first day or two, with intensities an order of magnitude greater than what we would later be exposed to.

We will keep you updated with more as this story unfolds.  Meanwhile, for those interested about the core explosion phenomenon, click here.  For those who might have doubts that GRB 110328A is an example of a supermassive black hole tidally disrupting a passing star, and who might be interested in learning of an alternative way to conceive of the supermassive objects that form the cores of galaxies, click here.  For evidence that the core of our own Galaxy is most likely not a supermassive black hole, but a mother star, visit our subquantum kinetics forum (starburstfound.org/sqkblog/) and in particular the posting entitled “Evidence Against Black Hole in Galactic Core“.  Further evidence against the black hole theory is discussed in the books Subquantum Kinetics and Genesis of the Cosmos.