5 Minutes of Quasars

The binary system V404-Cygni 8,000 light years from earth is a microquasar that contains a black hole more than nine times the mass of our own sun. The best evidence of the existence of black holes comes from binary systems where visible stars orbit an unknown mass, and a recent find has shown V404-Cygni rapidly rotating and pulling gas from the nearby star and ejecting the spiralling plasma in different directions back out into space rather than straight along the axis.

It has been suggested that this new find could be applied to systems much larger than V404-Cygni and particularly how these black holes can affect time and space, especially when the ejected plasma reaches the speed of light that then channels into much larger regions of space. But, how can the governing gravitational and kinetic energy transfer – as seen similarly with astrophysical jets spewing out from the centre of galaxies -communicate the relativistic effects on physics at a large-scale?

As V404-Cygni sprays plasma out of the accretion disk in different directions, it effects space and therefore time due to the strong gravity and theory of relativity articulates how massive objects can bend space and time as it influences frame-dragging. As the orbit of the black hole in the binary system rotates and spins, the axis is not aligned with the plane that warps the orientation of the jet discharge, giving insight into the behaviour of the already mysterious black holes.

The affects of time dilation in the theory of relativity explains that the further away an astronomical event, the more slower it appears since the speed of light is constant and so the redshift caused by an expanding universe stretches out the wavelengths that make it appear longer to the observer. It is now widely accepted that the universe is expanding, however observations of the redshift of quasars have been problematic .

Cosmological redshift explains that each galaxy emits the same wavelength of the light, but quasars are determined by the distance from where the light was emitted, and the greater the measured redshift the longer the light has spent travelling and with the expanding universe stretches the wavelength. By measuring the redshift, we can ascertain the distance of quasars and despite the profound luminosity, the closest quasar is over 700 million light years away.

Quasar’s are one of the brightest objects in the universe and, unlike V404-Cygni, are emitted from supermassive blackholes the size of one billion solar masses and that sit in the centre of galaxies. Black holes are usually invisible, however the accretion disk near the event horizon surrounding the black hole contains trapped gas and energy that enables scientists to ascertain its presence, as seen in the below image shows Messier 87 that reveals its black hole in the centre. This energy builds up and fuels the high-speed discharge where the contained material is ejected back out into space and becomes intergalactic food. All else is sucked into the black hole.


Just like how the remnants of a supernova explosion heats, produces and distributes heavy elements back out into space and preserve a galactic ecology, it also enables nuclear fusion and therefore gives birth to new stars. To put it succinctly, our solar system and the planets within it – including earth – would not have had enough elements to have formed without the remnants of a supernova and it would not have had the light that gives it life.

The matter ejected by quasar’s offer a solution to the idea that the universe must continuously be supplied with matter and that due to expansion fills those spatial gaps. As they are so distant, it confirms that they are also very ancient and therefore formed during the early stages of the universe and are only visible because of their extreme luminosity. The standard and most widely accepted cosmological model is the ‘Big Bang’ but within that lies several key difficulties that make the origins of the universe difficult to explain, galaxy formation being one of them since random non-uniformity during the expanding universe does not provide a sufficient amount of time for galaxies to form. Along with the problem of isotropy and the cosmic microwave background radiation, whereby the regions of space contained thermal equilibrium, some of these problems have been answered by inflationary  models that explains some of these mysteries of the initial conditions of the universe.

The inflationary model of the multiverse theory involves pockets of multiple universes existing due to cosmological expansion. The early universe contained a small Ø>=0 or ≥10-26 m patch [that is cH- whereby the age of the universe is more or less a calculation of the speed of light times the inverse of the Hubble constant] that expanded exponentially at a constant threshold through gravitational repulsion (Fv).


It becomes slightly interesting when exploring the multiverse with string theory – the inflationary model recognises particles as quanta excitation of a field; a scalar field spins in all directions [that is, the field being at the lowest energy density where the particles within are the exited states; a false vacuum is the temporary state where the highest energy density is stuck and acts as a vacuum that cannot be lowered] – where we could visualise an interesting scene of these other pocket universes containing entirely different particles, fields and energy states.

The string theory model purports that our universe is actually a three-brane – a brane being an object that allows multiple dimensions to exist within it [string theory of quantum gravity claims that particles as ‘strings’ of vibrating energy within ten spatial dimensions] – whilst we merely experience the three dimensions of space as it dominates the brane. While particles like quarks are attached to the dimensions that we experience, gravitons being closed strings cannot ‘attach’ and therefore gravity could leak off the 3-brane and travel to higher dimensions and thus travel through dimensions that we fail to experience.

It could also explain dark matter and energy as well as why we experience weak gravity; what is the relationship between gravity and time in relation to the 3-brane model considering that if an object moves away from the source of gravity at different rates, time moves faster depending on the gravitational field? I need to learn more myself, but Brane cosmology certainly looks interesting.

The fact is that there exists no applicable law in physics that requires the direction of time to move forward as we experience it. What we assume is that entropy is the cause of the arrow of time – the second law of thermodynamics – but we also know that the initial conditions of the early universe started off with very low entropy, which has stifled physicists and developed a plethora of various ideas that have yet to clearly describe temporal direction. Turning back to the inflationary model, there have been discussions raised by prominent physicists about the possibility of an inverse mirror of time where particles expand into two different directions similar to the parallel hypothesis of space.

The Janus Point [the moment before expansion] as explained by Julian Barbour purports that the initial conditions of low entropy and the cosmic certainty of increasing entropy is not essentially required when discussing the arrow of time and that it is merely an inevitable product of physical laws. He and his colleagues imply, unlike most cosmologists, that the arrow of time is centred on gravity rather than thermodynamics. Gravity is not just a force; when you think of floating through space, you think of the slowing of time just as you would its speed when you are freefalling 10,000 feet from the earth’s surface.

Understanding the subatomic world is not without its weirdness and however vast the literature on the topic of cosmology, the reality is that we still do not know how the universe began. There is no known origin of the universe in physics because any attempt requires a fundamental understanding of space and time, knowledge that we simply do not have and so a study of ‘time’ before the universe cannot be understood. As said by Newton:

I do not know what I may appear to the world; but to myself, I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.

Also see:

“Spinning black hole sprays light-speed plasma clouds into space” – https://www.icrar.org/cygni/

Isaac Newton, From Brewster, Memoirs of Newton (1855)
Hugh Everett “Relative State Formulation of Quantum Mechanics”. Reviews of Modern Physics, 29: 454–462 (1957)
John Gribbin, In Search Of Schrodinger’s Cat , Random House (2003)
R. Laurence Moore, Cosmogenesis: The Growth of Order in the Universe, Oxford University Press, (1991) 129
R.Plaga, Proposal for an experimental test of the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics
Michio Kaku, Introduction to Superstrings and M-Theory, Springer Science & Business Media (1999) 463
J. Barbour, T. Koslowski, and F. Mercati, A gravitational origin of the arrows of time