Redshift Quantization?


    Fourier spectral analysis has been carried out on the quasar number count as a function of redshift calculated from the quasar data of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey DR6 data release. The results indicate that quasars have preferred periodic redshifts with redshift intervals of 0.258, 0.312, 0.44, 0.63, and 1.1. Within their standard errors these intervals are integer multiples 4, 5, 7, 10 and 20 of 0.062. Could this be indicative of an intrinsic redshift for quasars as has been suggested by some?

    The redshift distribution of all 46,400 quasars in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) Quasar Catalog, Third Data Release (DR3), is examined. Six peaks that fall within the redshift window below z=4 are visible. Their positions agree with the preferred redshift values predicted by the decreasing intrinsic redshift (DIR) model.

    Evidence is presented for redshift quantization and variability as detected in global studies done in the rest frame of the cosmic background radiation. Quantization is strong and consistent with predictions derived from concepts associated with multidimensional time. Nine families of periods are possible but not equally likely. The most basic family contains previously known periods of 73 and 36 km s–1 and shorter harmonics at 18.3 and 9.15 km s–1.

    Using new data for unassociated galaxies with wide H I profiles and values of period and solar motion predicted by Tifft and Cocke (1984), a periodicity has been found which is significant at the conventional 5 percent level. Together with Tifft's work on galaxy pairs and small groups, this result appears to provide evidence in favor of the hypothesis that measured galaxy redshifts occur in steps of a little more than 72 km/s or a simple multiple of this period.

    Power spectrum analyses of the corrected redshifts are used to search for a significant periodicity in the prescribed range 70-75 km/s. No such periodicity is found for the dwarf irregulars, but there is a possible periodicity of about 71.1 km/s for the bright spirals. In a further exploratory study, the sample of 112 spirals is divided up according to environment. The spirals in high-density regions of the cluster show no quantization, whereas those in low-density regions appear to be partially quantized in intervals of about 71.0 km/s.

    The present study investigates the notion that extragalactic redshifts are periodic in ranges around 24.2, 36.3, or 72.5 km/s for an independent sample of 89 nearby spirals, in the general field, with accurately determined heliocentric redshifts. A strong periodicity of about 37.2 km/s is found, against a white noise background, for an assumed solar vector coincidental, within the uncertainties, with that corresponding to the sun's probable motion around the Galactic Center. Comparison with sets of synthetic data simulating the overall characteristics of the real data show the periodicity to be present at a high confidence level.

    Published observational data on galaxies of redshift z less than about 1000 km/s are compiled in extensive tables and diagrams and analyzed, searching for additional Local Group members among fainter higher-redshift galaxies. A concentration toward the center of the Local Group and a concentration associated with NGC 55, NGC 300, and NGC 253 are identified in the south Galactic hemisphere and characterized in detail. The galaxies near the centers of the concentrations are found to obey a quantization interval of Delta-cz0 = 72.4 km/s, as for the Local Group (Tifft, 1977); the accuracy of this finding is shown to be to within + or - 8.2 km/s (for galaxies with redshifts known to + or - 8 km/s) and to within 3-4 km/s (for a subset of galaxies with more accurately measured redshifts).

    Samples of 97 and 117 high-precision 21 cm redshifts of spiral galaxies within the Local Supercluster were obtained in order to test claims that extragalactic redshifts are periodic (P36 km s–1) when referred to the centre of the Galaxy. The power spectral density of the redshifts, when so referred, exhibits an extremely strong peak at 37.5 km s–1. The signal is seen independently with seven major radio telescopes. Its significance was assessed by comparison with the spectral power distributions of synthetic datasets constructed so as to closely mimic the overall properties of the real datasets employed; it was found to be real rather than due to chance at an extremely high confidence level.

    Persistent claims have been made over the last ~15yr that extragalactic redshifts, when corrected for the Sun's motion around the Galactic centre, occur in multiples of ~24 or ~36km/s. A recent investigation by us of 40 spiral galaxies out to 1000km/s, with accurately measured redshifts, gave evidence of a periodicity ~37.2-37.7km/s. Here we extend our enquiry out to the edge of the Local Supercluster (~2600km/s), applying a simple and robust procedure to a total of 97 accurately determined redshifts. We find that, when corrected for related vectors close to recent estimates of the Sun's galactocentric motion, the redshifts of spirals are strongly periodic (P~37.6km/s). The formal confidence level of the result is extremely high, and the signal is seen independently with different radio telescopes. We also examine a further sample of 117 spirals observed with the 300-foot Green Bank telescope alone. The periodicity phenomenon appears strongest for the galaxies linked by group membership, but phase coherence probably holds over large regions of the Local Supercluster.

    A project intended to examine the long-standing claims that extragalactic redshifts are periodic or quantized was initiated some years ago at the Royal Observatory, Edinburgh. The approach taken is outlined, and the main conclusions to date are summarized. The existence of a galactocentric redshift quantization is confirmed at a high confidence level.

    It is pointed out that the discrete velocities found by Tifft in galaxies are harmonically related to the discrete intrinsic redshifts found in quasars. All are harmonically related to the constant 0.062±0.001, and this is the fourth independent analysis in which the redshift increment 0.062 has been shown to be significant. It is concluded that there is a quantized component in the redshift of both quasars and galaxies that has a common origin and is unlikely to be Doppler-related.

    Halton Arp, Quasars, Redshifts and Controversies,M1

    Hi :wink:

    I seem to see a recurring theme here.

    Like, ~37 km/s and ~73 km/s periodicities show up over and over and over again in any cogent study of redshifts.

    Jonathan, I'm glad to see you've read some of Arp's work.
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2009
  2. jcsd
  3. Jonathan Scott

    Jonathan Scott 1,358
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    Re: Quasars: A Different Perspective?

    Hi Suede - welcome to Physics Forums!

    That's an interesting list of references (some of which weren't working just now but seem to be improving). It appears that they are mostly concerned with the quantization of intrinsic redshift (for galaxies within a cluster as well as quasars) rather than its existence, and I think that whole idea is on somewhat dodgy ground as it seems that the statistical strength of the arguments is getting weaker as the amount of data is getting larger.

    If quasars aren't black holes, then it would certainly be possible that some the evolution of new quasars could proceed in a stepwise way (for example regularly blowing off layers on reaching certain critical energy density levels). However, I'd prefer to consider the evidence for or against decreasing intrinsic redshift without getting into the issue of quantization.

    Do you have a similar list of references which claim to prove that there is no intrinsic redshift, or which criticize the articles you've listed? I'd like to see a more balanced view.
  4. Re: Quasars: A Different Perspective?

    Yeah I just fixed a bunch of those links.

    They got hosed up when I collected them.

    As for the counter arguements, you can look up intrinsic redshift on wiki which is dominated by people opposed to the idea. You're not going to find many published papers refuting it though, just a lot of ad hom attacks and pontification.

    I haven't seen any published papers refuting the findings to date.
  5. Nereid

    Nereid 3,582
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    Re: Quasars: A Different Perspective?

    (I've added numbers, to help readers with my comments, below)

    Welcome to PF, Suede.

    It looks quite an impressive list, doesn't it?

    And as many of the papers on your list have been around for a long time, I'm sure you won't be at all surprised to learn that Tifft et al.'s claims (3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)* have been given a pretty thorough working over. And some curious things emerge from these papers - and the couple of dozen or so that you don't cite:

    a) despite the apparent similarity in findings, between papers, a closer read of them shows that most are, in fact, inconsistent - would you like to go through a sample in detail?

    b) there is a paper which points out that the statistical methods used, in most of the early papers, is wrong, rendering the stated conclusions invalid (I'll see if I can dig it up, if anyone is interested)

    c) the later the paper, generally, the weaker or more limited the 'redshift periodicity' reported. For example, Weak redshift discretisation in the Local Group of Galaxies? (2005):
    2) uses SDSS DR3, and the SDSS team cited Bell's paper in their own, announcing DR5; here's what they had to say:
    IOW, a more careful analysis, using a larger set of data (a superset of DR3), found no signal.

    1) is in its second version, and AFAICS is not yet published, despite going up in arXiv over a year ago. Maybe we should wait until it appears in a relevant peer-reviewed journal before commenting?

    Oh, and 10), the book by Arp? Well, anyone can write a book, can't they? No peer-review required wrt any claims made, is there?

    * not all these have Tifft as an author (Guthrie and Napier are an independent pair, for example), but they all address the ~24/36/72 km/s apparent redshift periodicity
  6. Nereid

    Nereid 3,582
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    Re: Quasars: A Different Perspective?

    Our posts crossed Suede, and as only the first two on your list have anything to do with quasars, how about we ask a mentor to split out the quantisation/periodicity/discretisation of galaxy redshifts into a separate thread?

    As I indicated in my earlier response, there isn't much need to "refut[e] the findings to date" ... largely because they are mutually inconsistent!
  7. Re: Quasars: A Different Perspective?

    Oh here's one:

    A 2005 paper done by two chinese atstronomers.

    We have used the publicly available data from the 2dF Galaxy Redshift Survey and the 2dF QSO Redshift Survey to test the hypothesis that there is a periodicity in the redshift distribution of quasi-stellar objects (QSOs) found projected close to foreground galaxies. These data provide by far the largest and most homogeneous sample for such a study, yielding 1647 QSO-galaxy pairs. There is no evidence for a periodicity at the predicted frequency in log(1 +z), or at any other frequency.

    To which I quote Scott:

    Recently mainstream astronomers have joyfully announced that they can find no quantization effects in the observed redshift values of quasars. Of course not! The raw measured total redshift values of the universal set of all known quasars are not quantized. It is the inherent redshift z values that are!
  8. Nereid

    Nereid 3,582
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    Re: Quasars: A Different Perspective?

    Who is "Scott"?

    Where is this quote from (source please)?
  9. Re: Quasars: A Different Perspective?

    Lets not be so choosy when selecting our quotes.

    Looking at the full quote that refutes the Bell findings:

    Repeating the analysis of Richards et al. (2006) for the DR5 sample reveals no structure in the redshift distribution after selection effects have been included (see lower histogram in Figure 3); this is in contrast to the reported redshift structure found in the SDSS quasar survey by Bell & McDiarmid (2006). To construct the lower histogram we have partially removed the effect of host galaxy contamination (by excluding extended objects), limited the sample to a uniform magnitude limit of i < 19.1 (accounting for emission-line effects), and have corrected for the known incompleteness near z ∼ 2.7 and z ∼ 3.5 due to quasar colors lying close to or in the stellar locus. Accounting for selection effects significantly reduces the number of objects as compared with the raw, more heterogeneous catalog, but the smaller, more homogeneous sample is what should be used for statistical analyses.


    So they limited the magnitude of the selection, "corrected" for incompleteness (how they "corrected" I'd love to know), and then make the claim that a small sample size is what should be used for statistical analyses.

    Where did these guys learn stats?

    Larger sample sizes always reflect a higher degree of accuracy in statistical analysis.
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2009
  10. Nereid

    Nereid 3,582
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    Re: Quasars: A Different Perspective?

    Yes, that's right.

    Selection effects are the bane of astronomers' lives, and recognising (first), characterising (second), and correcting for them (last) takes up an enormous amount of their professional life.

    I'm not sure how familiar you are with astronomy, Suede, so please don't take the following example as being condescending ....

    If you want to know how stars are distributed by inherent brightness ('intrinsic luminosity' or 'absolute luminosity') - how many are within each narrow range of brightness, within a sufficiently large volume - how would you go about it?

    Well, for starters you'd measure the observed brightness of all the stars in the sky, wouldn't you.

    But many stars emit most of their 'light' in parts of the EM spectrum that either doesn't get through the atmosphere, or which is partially blocked by it ... so you have to find a way to convert your observed brightness numbers to 'above the atmosphere' numbers (and that's very difficult to do; in fact until instruments could be put on rockets, or satellites, close to impossible).

    But many of the stars in the sky are clearly dimmed by stuff between us and the stars, especially dust, so you have to find a way to convert your estimated 'above the atmosphere' brightness numbers to 'removing the effect of dust absorption'.

    But the stars in the sky are clearly not all at the same distance from us, so you have to find a way to account for this, by estimating each one's distance.

    When you've done all this - and to get this far took astronomers several centuries (!) - you find something quite interesting: there are lots and lots of really (intrinsically) faint stars near to us, and very few intrinsically bright ones! So much so that even today we're quite unsure of the details of the lowest part of the 'stellar luminosity function', because we can't be sure we've even seen all the really faint stars within ~100 pc (say), let alone been able to estimate their absolute luminosity.

    One of the terrific things about SDSS is the huge amount of effort that went in, at the design stage, to addressing systematic effects (a superset of selection effects). Such care lead to the paper you quoted from - the survey data allows for correction of systematic effects relatively easily.

    Now, would you really love to know how ("how they "corrected" I'd love to know")? I'd be happy to walk you through the details (they're all out in the open, in papers published in relevant peer-reviewed journals), but it will require a considerable investment of your time (unless you've already got an advanced degree in astrophysics).
  11. Nereid

    Nereid 3,582
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    Re: Quasars: A Different Perspective?

    You added this after I quoted your post ...

    May I ask what your professional training is, in physics, astronomy, or statistics?

    I ask because this part of your post, that I'm quoting, seems to reveal gross ignorance, at least about astronomy and statistics.
  12. Re: Quasars: A Different Perspective?

    I submit that "significantly" reducing the sample size as they have done will of course alter the findings in their favor.

    When looking for redshift periodicity, it makes no sense to limit the selection down to a handful of QSOs when an entire raw catalogue of valid data is present.

    Selection effects in statistics are inherent biases in the collection methods.

    There are no biases in raw redshift data, it is what it is.

    The larger the sample, the more accurate your results will be when looking for periodicity.

    You'd have to convince me otherwise in order for me to accept that papers findings, and considering every stats textbook on the planet says otherwise, I'll go with the paper using the larger sample.
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2009
  13. Re: Quasars: A Different Perspective?

    Gross ignorance is eliminating valid data to make findings fit preconcieved notions of redshift distribution.
  14. Chronos

    Chronos 10,348
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    Large numbers of contaminated data is not more statistically meaningful than a smaller, more carely selected and properly corrected data set. Contaminated data will always yield statistical anomalies. In that sense I suggest the larger data sets are little more than 'gee whiz' statistics. If these findings were truly valid and significant, wouldn't you think every grad student in the universe would be publishing supporting papers? Everyone wants a piece of any new discovery if one is to had - especially aspiring doctoral students looking to jump start their careers. Oddly enough, few such papers are to be found, despite the many years since quantized redshift was first 'discovered'. The silence is deafening. So I ask, how many of the papers you cite been further refined - as in several papers built one upon the other - that systematically affirm the original 'conclusions'?

  15. I agree that "Large numbers of contaminated data is not more statistically meaningful than a smaller" however, if you took the time to look at the SDSS datasets, you'd see they have built in confidence definitions for each redshift listed.

    In fact, if you took the time to read some of the papers I posted, you'd see things like:
    I obtained 80,398 quasar data from the SDSS BestDR6 database (Adelman-McCarthy et al 2007) available at The data (downloaded on the 7th December 2007) were selected by specClass = 3 for QSO and 4 for HIZ_QSO, low redshift and high redshift quasars, respectively. These include any objects with spectra that have been classified by the spectroscopic pipeline as quasars (specClass = QSO or HIZ_QSO). The DR6 data used here were not filtered as was the DR5 quasar catalog, described in Schneider et al. (2007), found at In that case the DR5 catalog quasars were chosen from those that have apparent i-band PSF magnitudes fainter than 15, absolute i-band magnitudes brighter than -22, contain at least one emission line or are unambiguously broad absorption line quasars, and have highly reliable redshifts. In the latter cosmological assumptions were required to obtain absolute magnitudes. For this analysis such assumptions were avoided.

    But hey, why take his word that he found quantized intervals. Read his paper and follow the instructions. Its a pretty simple procedure. I bet we could walk through it right now.

    The SDSS has published the data on publicly accessable SQL server.

    You can query all 80,000 qso's yourself, pull out only those that have a scientific rating and a 95% or greater redshift confidence rating and do a fourier analysis on the data right now.

    --This query selects top X number of QSOs that are rated research grade with a redshift confidence rating of .95 or higher. Lists Dataset 7 redshift and dataset 5 redshift for all QSOs that appear in the DR5 catalog meeting that criteria.

    select top 10 A.z as DR7z, A.zConf as DR7zConfidence, B.z as DR5z, a.sciencePrimary
    from SpecObjAll as A, DR5QuasarCatalog as B
    where A.specObjId = B.specObjId
    and A.sciencePrimary = 1
    and A.zConf >= 0.95

    To get everything back meeting that criteria, just remove the "top 10" constraint from the query.
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2009
  16. Nereid

    Nereid 3,582
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    Re: Quasars: A Different Perspective?

    (bold added)

    Do you have the right paper?

    Your link takes you to a paper with this abstract, but it's a 2002 (not 2005) paper, by E. Hawkins, S.J. Maddox and M.R. Merrifield, whose affiliation is stated as "School of Physics & Astronomy, University of Nottingham, Nottingham NG7 2RD, UK".

    I don't know who Scott is, nor where you got this quote from, but again it seems there's a disconnect ... Hawkins et al. set out to test a specific 'intrinsic redshift' explanation (or model, if you prefer), as presented in papers they reference. Scott seems to be saying that such a test should surely fail because it's testing the wrong hypothesis. If so, then it's not germane.

    Do you know if Scott has published his own hypotheses re 'intrinsic redshift'? If so, where?

    To conclude: the redshift model Hawkins et al. tested is, it seems, the same one that one of the papers in the OP presents (or very similar to it).
  17. Nereid

    Nereid 3,582
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    Indeed, that's the first paper you provide a link to, in the OP.

    As I have already noted, it's not yet been published (apparently), nor even accepted for publication* ... and reading it carefully I found several rather big shortcomings (whether any relevant journal reviewer would recommend publication, edits, or rejection I cannot say).

    It almost seems like you are the author - are you?

    In any case, the main problems with the paper, that I can see, have little to do with how to query the SDSS databases and perform analyses on the data so obtained; rather, they have to do with selection effects.

    In a nutshell, the relevant astronomy literature has many papers on the difficulties of obtaining samples of quasars whose selection biases are both well-understood and well-characterised; the Schneider et al. 2007 paper discusses some of these challenges, and cites other papers which also address them. Unfortunately, Hartnett seems to have chosen to ignore all these, in his paper.

    Would you, or any other reader, be interested in discussing some of the possible selection effects that Hartnett seems to ignore?

    * if you have information to the contrary, please share it.
  18. No, I'm not the author, and again, selection effects are a result of bias in collection methods.

    Redshift data that is collected has no bias.

    IMHO, all that is required in a search for quantization is that the redshift recorded has a high confidence in it's accuracy.

    I posted 11 papers and a book in support of quantization, papers that refute the posted work are few and far between, and I call their methods into question, just as you seem to have a problem with the way the quantization papers were conducted.

    If you have a problem with the way the first paper conducted the Fourier analysis, then do your own right here and now. The raw data is simple enough to obtain, I even posted a link to it. Whether the paper is published in a journal or simply accepted as by Arxiv as a scholarly work seems inconsequential to me considering access to the raw data is readily available.

    I'll wager you can constrain the data down to less than a thousand records, if you are so inclined, and still see peak formation in the analysis.
  19. Nereid

    Nereid 3,582
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    Re: Quasars: A Different Perspective?

    I missed this earlier post (bold added)
    You're being serious, aren't you; this isn't a joke, right?

    The SDSS team made their procedures, operations, and observations open; there are several papers on them, plus detailed notes, tutorials, etc on their website.

    Let's start with the huge topic of "quasar target selection"*, which is how the SDSS operation (team, telescopes, cameras, software, etc, etc, etc) selected objects for observation by the spectroscopes. By definition, if the spectrum of an object was not taken, then it cannot have been included in the database with a SpecClass flag of either 3 or 4, can it? So if an object in the "astrometrically and photometrically calibrated catalog of objects found in the data from the imaging camera" is NOT selected by the SDSS quasar target selection algorithm but IS, in fact, a quasar, then we have a bias, don't we? And that's not counting the objects in the sky which should have been included in that (imaging) catalogue but weren't (and which, in fact, are quasars).

    Here's a key paragraph (I've replaced the link to Richards et al. (2002) with one to the arXiv preprint):

    The quasar target selection algorithms are summarized in this schematic flowchart. Because the quasar selection cuts are fairly numerous and detailed, the reader is strongly recommended to refer to Richards et al. (2002) [...] for the full discussion of the sample selection criteria, completeness, target efficiency, and caveats.

    Hmm ... "sample selection criteria, completeness, target efficiency, and caveats" ... that sure reads like a list of biases to me, as in "inherent biases in the collection methods"!

    ETA: Suede's post #17 and mine (this one) crossed.

    * more detail here and here.
  20. Nereid

    Nereid 3,582
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    I have no doubt of that ... however, it is of critical import in this part of PhysicsForums (bold added):

  21. Nereid

    Nereid 3,582
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    You did?

    There are links to only 9 papers in the OP (and one to a book); your subsequent posts contain no new papers (or books) "in support of quantization".

    Where are the other two?
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