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A Universe Older Than Itself?

Tom Van Flandern
Year: 2002 Pages: 3
Keywords: quasar, redshift, Big Bang

A European Space Agency team found three times more iron in quasar APM 8279+5255 than exists in our solar system today. So what, you say? The catch is that this quasar is roughly 13.5 billion light years away, if its redshift is any indicator. But that means the light from the quasar has been en route to us for 13.5 billion years, leaving precious little time after the Big Bang explosion for this quasar to form, develop lots of iron, and send the iron lines in its spectrum on their way to us. It takes many generations of supernovas, the only known source of iron in stars, galaxies, and quasars, to get that much iron into an astrophysical body. In fact, other things being equal, it should take three times as long to develop that quasar than it took for the many generations of stars that preceded our Sun to form the Sun with as much iron as the Sun has today. The large iron content of the quasar is therefore a major puzzle. Only two explanations appear possible, and either one is going to upset some theorists: (1) the Big Bang redshift-distance-age relationship is wrong; or (2) the early universe contained iron factories producing extra iron by an unknown physical means. Although this latter possibility would do less violence to the Big Bang theory, it presently seems unimaginable for that much iron to form in any other way, so ?iron factories? seem the less likely possibility. But that leaves only the conclusion that the redshift-distance-age relationship is wrong. So the universe would be older than the time it would take to expand to its present size (basically, the Big Bang is wrong); or redshift is not a reliable distance indicator for at least quasars (basically, the Big Bang is wrong, but maybe not so totally wrong as in the other possibility). If you see any response from cosmologists, send news of it down here to the cave. On most days there?s more excitement in watching the moss grow than waiting for explanations of the latest problems for cosmologists. The bigger the problem, the more likely it is to be ignored.