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Hubble Telescope Release Challenged
By Halton Arp

On 26 October, the European Space Agency issued "breaking news" on Stephan's Quintet of galaxies:


It stated "Just by looking at this splendid [Hubble Space Telescope] image it is clear that the redshift discordance . . . is now finally resolved. Hubble's resolution is so high that individual stars can be discerned in [the lower redshift galaxy], showing that it is definitely closer than the [remaining higher redshift] group of galaxies."

Surprisingly, "just looking at the picture" shows that the resolution of young stars in the high redshift galaxies is just as

good as in the low redshift galaxy! HII regions of glowing gas are

supposed to be a good indicator of galaxy distances. But in the

Hubble picture they appear the same in both redshift systems. If

the high redshift galaxies were really at their assumed redshift

distances their HII regions would be relatively 7-8 times smaller

and fainter. Obviously they are not.

Contrary to the statement in this news release, the low redshift

galaxy (NGC7320) has always been considered a nearby galaxy. It is

only 31 arcminutes from the large, nearby NGC 7331, has the same

redshift and resolution characteristics and is the normal type of

companion which most large galaxies have. The point at issue has

never been the distance of NGC 7320. It has always been whether

the high redshift members of the Quintet are at the same close

distance of NGC7320, thereby invalidating the redshift distance

law on which the theory of an expanding universe is based.

In addition to the above, the evidence that the high redshift

galaxies are closeby is still the same or stronger than in the

past, namely:

1) The edge of NGC7320 is extended toward the high redshift

galaxies as if in interaction. The majority of its HII regions

are on this side. Not shown in the Hubble picture is a long tail

extending backward from NGC7320 supporting the interaction


2) The differences in redshift between the high redshift members,

if interpreted as velocity, is greater than 1000 km/sec. Galaxies

are not supposed to have such high peculiar velocities. The

accepted redshift-apparent magnitude relation would be destroyed

for brighter galaxies. Moreover, if the galaxies were really

travelling this fast, the group would dissipate on a very short

time scale. The chances of our seeing them all so close together

would be very small.

3) It has been shown that large galaxies like NGC7331, the parent

to NGC7320, have higher redshift companions preferentially along

their minor axes. In the present case, just on the other side of

the minor axis of NGC7331 is a group of companion galaxies almost

exactly matching the high redshift members of Stefan's Quintet in

redshift, size and appearance - a circumstance very unlikely to

occur by chance.)

4) Radio telescope measures in the region show a continuous

connection between the high redshift companions on the east of

NGC7331, through NGC7331 and toward Stefan's Quintet to the south


All the above evidence has been published in numerous articles in

the Astrophysical Journal in the 1970's (e.g. Astrophys. Journ.

183, 411, 1973) and summarized in the book Quasars, Redshifts and

Controversies, Interstellar Media, 1987,) pp. 96-102.) It would

seem to be an important responsibility for agencies like ESA and

NASA, which are responsible for governing the use of Space

Telescope, to release complete information and be careful to avoid

one-sided and possibly misleading interpretations of


Halton Arp

Max-Planck-Institut fuer Astrophysik

31Oct. 2000)


The Space Telescope picture of Stefan's Quintet, however, also

shows some new features that argue for the interaction of NGC7320

with the high redshift galaxies. The features are:

1) Large numbers of blue stars in the body of NGC7320. Even in a

population I type dwarf, it is unusual to see such dense numbers

of stars which have such short lifetimes. This means there must

have been a very recent event which caused widespread star

formation in NGC7320. The only other objects in the vicinity that

could have caused such an event are the high redshift NGC7318A and


In this regard it is a little noted fact that Jack Sulentic showed

some years ago that NGC7320 is strikingly deficient in hydrogen.

Since this is the raw material out of which stars are made, the

residual gas must have been stripped out of NGC7320 after the

already very recent formation event of the numerous blue stars.

2) The resolved blue stars as well as the underlying population on

the NW side of NGC7320 are extended toward NGC7318A and B. The

blue stars even show some evidence of streaming toward the high

redshift pair.

The obvious model to explain these observations is that NGC7320

and NGC7318 started approaching each other. The medium

surrounding the high redshift pair compressed the medium in

NGC7320, initiated star formation, and then started sweeping the

hydrogen out of NGC7320. The well known long, faint surface

brightness tail coming out the other end of NGC7320 not only

attests to such an interaction but confirms its direction. Of

course the new stars in NGC7320 no longer are controlled by the

gas pressure and can fall toward the gravity source in the

direction of the centers of NGC7318A and B.



It is also noteworthy that the place of the major HII and star

formation region in NGC7318B is just in the interface between

NGC7320 and NGC9318B. It is in the form of a filament bent back

toward the higher redshift galaxy in just the direction of the

deduced pressure from the approaching NGC7320.

The present space telescope image shows delicate absorption

features emerging from the nucleus of NGC7319. Being a Seyfert

galaxy, NGC7319 would be expected to be ejecting material out

along its minor axis. The high redshift H alpha emission and the

X-ray and radio emitting material all suggest ionized material

jetting out of the NGC7319 nucleus, along the minor axis,

impinging on the medium surrounding NGC7318A and B and spreading

north and south. This southern material reaches essentially to the

NW end of NGC7320 and attests both to the medium surrounding

NGC7318 but also suggests the physical contiguity of NGC7320.

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