Believe it or not

by Jonathan Sarfati and David Catchpoole

Spiral galaxies are “oddly pristine”


The 'bulge' seen around the centre of many spiral galaxies in our universe was presumed to be the result of collisions during their formation, leaving a legacy of "upset stars that do not orbit neatly in one plane, but swarm almost randomly about the disturbed galaxy's core."

However, cosmologists John Kormendy and Ralf Bender have now examined detailed images of spiral galaxies taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, and their observations "were something of a shock".1 That's because the "orderly trajectory of the stars" in slimline "oddly pristine" spiral galaxies just didn't fit with ideas about violent mergers in their past.

In hindsight, it's understandable that casual observers had "misidentified" the bright central concentration of stars "as classical bulges", Kormendy explains, especially when not being in a position to see the galaxy edge-on. But the huge number of slimline, pristine spirals leaves cosmologists with "something of a headache", as an article in New Scientist put it, adding that "nagging doubts are creeping in that some of the largest, most luminous examples in fact look rather too perfect. What's more, many of them seem to be in entirely the wrong place."

Princeton University cosmologist Jim Peebles, admitting that the findings were "wildly unexpected", candidly spelled out the problem:

"Galaxies are complicated and we don't really understand how they form. It's really an embarrassment."

But the Scripture (Psalm 19:1) says that the heavens proclaim the glory of God, the skies show His handiwork. They do indeed.

Battle of the bulge, New Scientist 210(2816):32–35, 11 June 2011

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