Code for Early Brighter Hotter
There is a code to follow when reading astronomy news stories. The words chosen hide mistakes. A recent story (link below) is an example.
'early' means it has an extreme red shift which is assumed to have an extreme velocity and so then it is also at an extreme distance. Billions of light years away means that many years ago.
A news story with 'most distant' is based on the same mistake.
These use incorrect assumptions. Red shifts from galaxies are different than from quasars.
In the 1930's galaxy red shifts were known to be proportional to distance. This was fine for nearby galaxies having the same density of intergalactic hydrogen. Galaxies can have a different density in its light path affecting its assumed distance. Distant galaxies appear even more distant (or faster) by the increasing red shift because of hydrogen atoms in space. This red shift should never be associated with velocity or time.
A quasar red shift comes from hydrogen ions zooming at a relativistic velocity toward the core and the ions indicate nothing about the quasar distance or velocity.
Astronomers treat every red shift as a velocity and assume the distance is proportional to the velocity. This is wrong.
Something 'early' is clearly not.
'brighter' means the red shift indicates an extreme (wrong) distance for this object but the (wrong) conclusion is the observed brightness is wrong; it must be brighter at that distance. This 'brighter' can refer to any part of the spectrum from radio to infrared to light to X-ray. With the Hubble telescope in a story this 'brighter' is about visible light.
'hotter' depends on the telescope in the story. With Chandra:
'hot' means there are X-rays. X-rays from intergalactic space are assumed to come from an extremely hot gas; while X-rays from a galactic core are assumed from material around a black hole. Each is wrong because X-rays are part of synchrotron radiation indicating there are electric and magnetic fields in action (an electric current bending in a magnetic field). The assumption for 'hot' is a hot gas behaves like a blackbody so its high temperature results in blackbody radiation in the X-ray band.
For a black hole a proposed accretion disk is assumed to have that blackbody temperature for X-rays.
Black-body radiation is the thermal electromagnetic radiation within or surrounding a body in thermodynamic equilibrium with its environment, emitted by a black body (an idealized opaque, non-reflective body).
A hot gas or plasma is not a blackbody, nor is an accretion disk, so its temperature cannot be measured this way. These assumed 'hot' temperatures are invalid.
The donut observed in M87 (in a famous image) is a plasmoid, emitting synchrotron radiation; when the magnetic field in the torus intermittently collapses it ejects material along its axis, as observed.
With the Spitzer or WISE telescopes, 'hotter' is stronger in the infrared.
From the news story (below) about Spitzer:
like the radiation that roils off actively feeding black holes at the center of galaxies
There are mistakes in this.
A highly publicized image of the M87 core in radio or in infrared shows the same donut, generated by the plasmoid and its synchrotron radiation. Technically this 'heat' is electrical not thermal.
The assumption is the observed infrared is from an accretion disk, around a black hole, exhibiting a blackbody temperature. That is wrong for several reasons: there is no black hole and no accretion disk, and the disk of material (even claimed to be disintegrating) is not a blackbody, for this roiling radiation.
Something 'hot' in the universe is not always the same 'hot' like we feel with objects on Earth. Some frequencies in light, like infrared, are interpreted as heat by astronomers.
A 'hot gas' in intergalactic space is usually invisible. The term 'hot gas' in astronomy refers to ionized gas because the high temperature released electrons from the atoms. Charged particles are correctly called plasma; plasma has unique behaviors so plasma is often called the 4th state of matter, though plasma makes up > 99% of the universe.
Stories with the words 'Early' or 'Brighter' or 'Hotter' are conveying: astronomers have the wrong interpretation of an observation of a distant galaxy.
The next time there is a major publicity blitz like for that infamous black hole image, or even a regular news story about a galaxy, perhaps this code will help one understand how astronomers describe their observations.
link to the news story It has the 3 words in its headline.
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