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200,000 Elliptical Galaxies Point the Same Way

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the axis-of-opportunity dept.

Space 448

KentuckyFC sends us to arXiv, as is his wont, for a paper (abstract; PDF preprint) making the claim that 200,000 elliptical galaxies are aligned in the same direction; the signal for this alignment stands out at 13 standard deviations. This axis is the same as the controversial alignment found in the cosmic microwave background by the WMAP spacecraft.

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Frozed pees (1)

Mipoti Gusundar (1028156) | more than 6 years ago | (#20412709)

1 4 one am welcomming our new formation marching galactical overloads.

Why? (5, Interesting)

bcmm (768152) | more than 6 years ago | (#20412715)

Do they give any reason that this might be so? Are the galaxies in the same area? Did they all form from some insanely massive rotating structure or something?

Re:Why? (5, Funny)

dashslotter (1093743) | more than 6 years ago | (#20412747)

Does it really matter? 200,000 elliptical galaxies can't be wrong!

Re:Why? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20413095)

From the paper:

"A discussion of possible causes for these alignments is beyond the scope of this paper. "

i.e. We don't know....

Re:Why? (4, Funny)

jimstapleton (999106) | more than 6 years ago | (#20413333)

if 200,000 eliptical galaxies jumped off of a cliff... would you?

Re:Why? (4, Funny)

notque (636838) | more than 6 years ago | (#20412775)

Because they are terrorists. From the article,

"The axis of the CMB alignments has been referred to as the Axis of Evil"

Re:Why? (1)

gedhrel (241953) | more than 6 years ago | (#20412803)

In the same area? Well, er, yes, kind of. "Redshift 0.20" is what the abstract says.

Re:Why? (1)

gedhrel (241953) | more than 6 years ago | (#20412837)

That is, redshift < 0.20. It's stretching a point to call it "local" though.

Re:Why? (2, Informative)

Shag (3737) | more than 6 years ago | (#20413273)

The researchers I work with are interested in targets at z=0.03-0.08, which they consider "nearby." (Their targets aren't galaxies.)

That's 400 million to 1 billion light years.

Right around the corner.

z=0.20 is sufficiently distant that the restaurants don't even deliver.

Re:Why? (1)

SQLGuru (980662) | more than 6 years ago | (#20413349)

I think I'll wait for the stable version of Redshift before I install it on any machine I care about.....0.20 is too early of an alpha to play around with.

Layne

Re:Why? (4, Interesting)

iluvcapra (782887) | more than 6 years ago | (#20412871)

It might mean that the angular momentum of the universe is nonzero, if a majority of them are turning the same direction. Or, even if they all cancel out, that momentum in the early universe tended to be oriented in a plane. (IANAP, just a guess but seems logical)

I'm curious if the Milky Way is a part of the alignment.

Re:Why? (1)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 6 years ago | (#20413263)

momentum in the early universe tended to be oriented in a plane
A plane, or an M-brane?

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20413503)

M-brane

Zombie!

Why Not? (5, Interesting)

NReitzel (77941) | more than 6 years ago | (#20413041)

Einstein did not say that there cannot be a center of the universe.

What he did say is that for the purposes of measurement, there exists no privleged metric. All this says (All?!) is that there is no overall coordinate system that will be superior to all other coordinate systems.

If things started out as a big bang, on some scale, we will find a "center" of the universe. Is this an astronomy-shaking discovery? No. Maybe a tremor or two, for diehard relativeists. We already know that for specific purposes, there is often a preferred metric for computational or navigational purposes. Remember back in the Apollo program when the physics guys tried to explain that at a specific point, the coordinate system for the spacecraft shifted over from Terra-centric to Luna-centric, and the reporters looked at the "jog" in the plot and asked if the spacecraft would feel a "lurch" as it passed this point?

It's not nearly as big a deal as, say, whether Pluto is a "planet" or not. Pick a label, pin the sticker on the rock, except in this case, the rocks are superclusters of galaxies.

Re:Why Not? (5, Informative)

mlewan (747328) | more than 6 years ago | (#20413513)

"If things started out as a big bang, on some scale, we will find a "center" of the universe. "

I thought that was not the case. The big bang started in a point, but a point that is equally far from every other point in the universe, so there is no "centre". It is not a very intuitive statement, but that is what I understood from some article or other on the subject.

Re:Why? (4, Interesting)

fygment (444210) | more than 6 years ago | (#20413063)

The author states that the reasons for the orientation are beyond the scope of the paper. But the implication of the orientations is that the universe is not spherical. I have had only one course in cosmogeny (origins of the universe) and all the models lead to symmetry. So any indication of a lack of symmetry implies that we are missing some big piece of the puzzle. Combine this with the tenousness of many of the theories of cosmology (eg. Big Bang ... far from perfect and getting further ) and the picture emerges that there is not a lot that is actually known about the structure of the universe. Despite all the bravado and pat statements in the media, all we have are half-baked guesses. Mind you, does it really matter? Given our very short lives in the grand scheme of things, the lack of knowledge probably isn't hurting us.

Re:Why? (4, Insightful)

WormholeFiend (674934) | more than 6 years ago | (#20413163)

Mind you, does it really matter? Given our very short lives in the grand scheme of things, the lack of knowledge probably isn't hurting us.

We have short individual lives, but the knowledge that we discover outlives us.

If one day our descendants find ways to travel beyond our solar system, this knowledge might prove useful to them.

Re:Why? (2, Interesting)

SQLGuru (980662) | more than 6 years ago | (#20413441)

Or maybe the universe is spherical but with a much larger radius than we ever expected......two points, close together on the surface of a rather large sphrerical object would have almost parallel paths to that center.......

Layne

Re:Why? (1)

Corwn of Amber (802933) | more than 6 years ago | (#20413485)

Symmetrical? When I read tha, I thought "yeah, like, there is some central point, and a copy of myself at twice my distance to the center, from here".

That is exactly as brain-dead as the symmetrical time "theory". So, what is "symmetrical" ??

Re:Why? (1)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | more than 6 years ago | (#20413135)

I'd say Gravity. Our moon orbits around Earth, that orbits around the Sun, that orbits around the nucleus of the Milky way, that orbits around something we don't know is there yet, perhaps?

Re:Why? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20413203)

  1. Moon orbits Earth
  2. Earth orbits Sun
  3. Sun orbits Milky way center
  4. ???
  5. Profit.

quick (-1, Redundant)

joeldg (518249) | more than 6 years ago | (#20412719)

someone say something about galaxy-alignment overlords!

Re:quick (1)

Xybre (527810) | more than 6 years ago | (#20412753)

I, for one, welcome our new gala... meh. Not worth it. You have a go.

Re:quick (1)

Kartoffel (30238) | more than 6 years ago | (#20412861)

Imagine a beowulf cluster of 200,000 elliptical galaxies. Latency between nodes could be a bit problematic...

Re:quick (1)

Xybre (527810) | more than 6 years ago | (#20413387)

Depends, are the nodes connected via quantum entanglement? If so, latency isn't really a problem.

I'm in. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20413295)

> > someone say something about galaxy-alignment overlords!
>
>I, for one, welcome our new gala... meh. Not worth it. You have a go.

I'll play. How about this sentence from the PDF:

"To study the distribution of (sigma) for random universes, I have generated 4000 such universes."

Sure, we know he's talking about a computational simulation, but still... it's the kind of thing that would make your galaxy-alignment overlords, for themselves, welcome our supercomputing cosmologists, and remind us that they can be useful in producing asymmetries that will produce non-random distributions of ellipticities in galaxies some 13 billion years later.

In all seriousness, the paper is a pretty impressive result. If there's a large scale structure to the universe, from whence did it originate? At/before the instant of hyperinflation? It must have been early and universe-sized to be correlated with the WMAP results and as such, over long enough timescales, to affect the shapes of the end products of series of galactic mergers.

Back to our regularly scheduled slashschtick, I'm just glad we live in one of the more interesting universes. It's not turtles, turtles, turtles all the way down, it's cosmologists, cosmologists, cosmologists, all the way up!

(I did OK, didn't I? I mean, there's at least two In Soviet Russia jokes that I just left there waiting for someone to pick up on... :)

Re:I'm in. (1)

Xybre (527810) | more than 6 years ago | (#20413499)

In soviet russia, galactic mergers timescale you!

Achem.

But really, I was wondering what sort of massive force could cause such a correlation. My own observations seem to indicate that certain structures are present at every level of scale. From fractal lattice crystals, to fluid dynamics ripples, perhaps such a structure reaches even higher to galaxies and superclusters.

Maybe the whole universe is in one of these structures, held together by interference patterns of gravity waves creating "sockets" in which large structures can "fit" and create sympathetic wave deformations.

Scale it up (1)

Verteiron (224042) | more than 6 years ago | (#20412721)

Eh, I'm sure there's a perfectly reasonable explanation for this. They're probably just all aligned to the north magnetic pole of the universe, or something.

Or perhaps they're not galaxies at all, but exhaust trails. Of something... big. REALLY big.

Centre of the universe (1)

Big Nothing (229456) | more than 6 years ago | (#20412725)

They all point outwards from the centre of the universe.

Me.

Re:Centre of the universe (4, Informative)

FuzzyDaddy (584528) | more than 6 years ago | (#20412805)

They all point outwards from the centre of the universe.

Me.

Actually, this has already been observed. [wikipedia.org]

Re:Centre of the universe (1)

Erioll (229536) | more than 6 years ago | (#20413217)

So where are the Rainbow Worlds then? Or do they only point toward the center of the Galaxy?

They're pointing the way to God, but... (2, Funny)

Lurker2288 (995635) | more than 6 years ago | (#20412731)

...but why would God need a starship?

Re:They're pointing the way to God, but... (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 6 years ago | (#20412783)

...but why would God need a starship?

Isn't it obvious? The stargate got broken, duh!

Re:They're pointing the way to God, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20412995)

Are people really missing the Star Trek V reference?

I mean... it was bad, but you still saw it, right?

Re:They're pointing the way to God, but... (1)

thryllkill (52874) | more than 6 years ago | (#20413071)

I think the reference was kind of a stretch, since, well, there were no aligning galaxies mentioned at all in the movie.

Re:They're pointing the way to God, but... (1)

CaptnMArk (9003) | more than 6 years ago | (#20413211)

Please, nobody complain again about Star Trek starship alignment.

Holy Crap (1, Funny)

everphilski (877346) | more than 6 years ago | (#20412735)

WMAP spacecraft.

They are running their spacecraft off of a Windows-MySQL-Apache-PHP stack? well I'll be ...

Re:Holy Crap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20412859)

That might explain the server's latency...

Re:Holy Crap (1)

Mattintosh (758112) | more than 6 years ago | (#20412917)

No, no, no... That would be WAMP. Like the rats.

Eureeka! (0)

notque (636838) | more than 6 years ago | (#20412739)

They can point the same way... if.. that's a small sub-sample of even more galaxies that are arranged in a circle, and they are all pointing the same way but that's only because you're looking at a tiny fragment (tiny, I know) of the circle and they all look exactly the same at that small dataset.

Ok.. what the hell does this actually mean so my crazy theories can at least have some basic in logic.

Assumption busting... (3, Interesting)

massivefoot (922746) | more than 6 years ago | (#20412769)

Huh. I don't really have a great deal of specialist knowledge on cosmology, but this seems to put a lower bound on the distance over which we can assume the universe is isotropic (i.e. the same in all directions). The abstracts puts an upper bound on the redshift of the galaxies involved in the survey, which is presumably roughly equivalent to limiting the distance they are from us, but surely the fact that this net angular momentum axis is closely aligned with an axis identified in WMAP data indicates that this is a far larger scale phenomenon?

Re:Assumption busting... (1)

Gandalf_the_Beardy (894476) | more than 6 years ago | (#20412901)

Isotropy just means the same in all directions. If they do point the same way, it's still isotropic. Now if some region had them aligned and other regions didn't then that would be more of a problem I feel.

Re:Assumption busting... (2, Informative)

massivefoot (922746) | more than 6 years ago | (#20412983)

I think we're confusing two slightly different terms here. If they all point the same way it is most definitely not "isotropic," as there is clearly something different about that direction. If, however, as you move through the galaxy you find that the direction the galaxies are locally pointing does not change, it's still "homogeneous."

Re:Assumption busting... (1)

Gandalf_the_Beardy (894476) | more than 6 years ago | (#20413055)

Yes, from the point of sense of direction it's looking decidedly non isotropic... maybe Michealson and Morely were right and the aether lives....:-)

Re:Assumption busting... (4, Interesting)

pla (258480) | more than 6 years ago | (#20412923)

this seems to put a lower bound on the distance over which we can assume the universe is isotropic

I have to wonder - Could this particular anisotropy account for the Voyager paradox? That would set a much lower bound...

Even if not, though, I really find this sort of anomaly fascinating. Almost everything cosmology has found since the dawn of modern science has pointed to a bleak, cold, basically empty univers that goes on identically forever in every direction. Even learning that the universe has some underlying structure would somehow seem a lot more comforting.

Re:Assumption busting... (1)

massivefoot (922746) | more than 6 years ago | (#20413195)

I have to agree, it is very fascinating. I'm afraid I'm not aware of what the Voyager paradox is, however when we have a lower bound we aren't trying to find a lower one (that wouldn't restrict any further the interval over which we could make such assumptions), we want a bigger lower bound!

Re:Assumption busting... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20413371)

I'm afraid I'm not aware of what the Voyager paradox is

He's probably referring to the Pioneer anomaly [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Assumption busting... (1)

massivefoot (922746) | more than 6 years ago | (#20413417)

Possibly not, a Google search for "Voyager anomaly" did bring up several papers, but I'm not sure how it's related to a non-isotropic universe. It appears to be related to the bow show experienced by Voyager 1.

I think he means the Pioneer Anomaly (1)

el_munkie (145510) | more than 6 years ago | (#20413397)

To the best of my recollection, various probes we have shot outside of the solar system just aren't where we should be according to Newton and even Einstein. Even factoring in various factors that could have thrown off the trajectory, nothing really accounts for the discrepancy other than a possible misunderstanding of how things work.

This is from memory, though, so it may have been resolved by now.

Re:Assumption busting... (1)

localman (111171) | more than 6 years ago | (#20413259)

Even learning that the universe has some underlying structure would somehow seem a lot more comforting.

Really? How come?

Re:Assumption busting... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20413363)

Infinity is still ultimately inevitable. If the universe is found to be finite, then of course, the next mystery is what lies outside the universe? (What "contains" our universe?) If this outside universe is finite, then what contains it? And so on.

You can see that no matter how advanced, no matter how knowledgable or powerful we become, we will never reach the end of it. The only answer is infinity -- in other words, something which we as mortal human beings, by definition, can never have the ability to understand.

I feel neither comfort nor anxiety over this; I consider it something that, as a mortal human being, I simply must accept.

Re:Assumption busting... (0, Redundant)

HaeMaker (221642) | more than 6 years ago | (#20413189)

Here's another revelation...

There is a magnetic force so powerful it creates a magnetic field the size of the universe and galaxies align to it.

which beam (2, Interesting)

deopmix (965178) | more than 6 years ago | (#20412773)

All i want to know is which beam is making them all align. I'm betting that it's shardik's beam, he's bad ass.

Re:which beam (5, Funny)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 6 years ago | (#20412955)

nope - the turtle.
 
"See the TURTLE of enormous girth,
On his shell he holds the earth.
If you want to run and play,
Come along the BEAM today."

Re:which beam (1)

Austerity Empowers (669817) | more than 6 years ago | (#20413391)

Hmm I remember this cuter, cuddlier one:

"See the TURTLE of enormous girth,
On his shell he holds the earth.
His thought is slow but always kind,
he holds us all within his mind."

Re:which beam (1)

ekimminau (775300) | more than 6 years ago | (#20413357)

I believe, according to the Dune Universe [wikipedia.org] , we are all but puppets of the God Emperor. [wikipedia.org]
It is by will alone I set my mind in motion. It is by the juice of sapho that thoughts acquire speed, the lips acquire stains, the stains become a warning. It is by will alone I set my mind in motion

Easy. They point towards the monolith (4, Funny)

TechyImmigrant (175943) | more than 6 years ago | (#20412777)

They do. There's a monkey there with a bone as well.

Re:Easy. They point towards the monolith (2, Funny)

Xonstantine (947614) | more than 6 years ago | (#20412801)

It's either the doing of the Xeelee or the Photino birds. Now we just have to find a way to get to the Great Attractor before the sun burns out.

Easily explainable (-1, Redundant)

Joe the Lesser (533425) | more than 6 years ago | (#20412811)

This is all part of the Universe's master plan.

1. Align Galaxies.
2. ???????
3. Profit!!

galaxyzoo.org (4, Informative)

Kartoffel (30238) | more than 6 years ago | (#20412813)

It's been posted before, but if this sort of thing interests you, get over to Galaxy Zoo and help them classify galaxies.

Re:galaxyzoo.org (1)

Cee (22717) | more than 6 years ago | (#20413571)

Clicky [galaxyzoo.org]

Maybe Dylan was wrong (4, Funny)

mcmonkey (96054) | more than 6 years ago | (#20412815)

It seems you do need 200,000 elliptical galaxies to know which way the wind blows.

New Axis (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20412829)

Just don't tell Bush that we've found a new Axis - next thing you know he'll be drawing up plans for a 13,000-galaxy invasion force.

Re:New Axis (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 6 years ago | (#20413569)

As long as he goes, too, it's worth it!

this explains star trek! (3, Funny)

kisrael (134664) | more than 6 years ago | (#20412845)

So this might help explain in Star Trek how all ships are always keeping the same orientation / sense of "up"...

Cool! (1)

KiwiCanuck (1075767) | more than 6 years ago | (#20412855)

Now which way do I point my TV antenna to pick up GalacticTV?

Um, no they don't (3, Informative)

Normal_Deviate (807129) | more than 6 years ago | (#20412869)

The sample is 200,000 eliptical galaxies, and they showed a statistical tendency to point in a preferred direction. They most certainly do *not* all point the same way.

obviously... (4, Funny)

Connie_Lingus (317691) | more than 6 years ago | (#20412879)

all your axis are belong to us.

Translation? (1)

Gazzonyx (982402) | more than 6 years ago | (#20412881)

I browsed the PDF and it's a bit more technical than I can currently handle; can someone give me the 'play by play' brief on the significance of the orientation of the galaxies and why the chance is so slim that they align as they do? Is this a case of, "this shouldn't be happening as we understand it, and the chances of it arising from random distribution are nearly 0"? Or am I missing something?

Re:Translation? (4, Interesting)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 6 years ago | (#20413509)


can someone give me the 'play by play' brief on the significance of the orientation of the galaxies and why the chance is so slim that they align as they do?


I'm not a Cosmologist, but one would expect galaxy orientation to be pretty much random. As an example, think about if you threw a bunch of nails in the air. At any given time you'd expect the nails orientation to be pretty random (ignoring air effects, and any bias given by your throw). If they all aligned in a certain way though, you'd be surprised and start looking for a cause. (In this case say a strong magnetic field in the room).

If this is true, there must be something orienting the alignment of galaxies. That could be either some bias in the big-bang, some outside force we don't understand, or something else.

A grain of salt (4, Interesting)

Stranger4U (153613) | more than 6 years ago | (#20412937)

I read the article, and there seem to be a few problems he doesn't really address. First, he assumes that all elliptical galaxies have a point-of-view from which they appear circular. I don't think anyone has determined this to be the case, and he doesn't really have a way to get this from his data. Secondly, he doesn't give much real discussion to the error in the measurements, which is significant. No preffered axis of alignment would fall well within his measurement uncertainties. Finally, the 13-standard deviations is not from any real sort of error propagation, but from some random computer generated results. Could be interesting, but to be taken with a grain of salt.

Re:A grain of salt (1, Informative)

exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) | more than 6 years ago | (#20413127)

> First, he assumes that all elliptical galaxies have a point-of-view from which they appear circular. So let's consider the alternative: elliptical galaxies are actually elliptical but they have their ellipses aligned in just such a way that from Earth they could be construed as being circles with a strong preference to align towards a particular axis. Does that not sound a little ridiculous to you? There are times when having a flawed methodology makes your results sronger - not weaker. This is one of those cases.

Re:A grain of salt (4, Informative)

bperkins (12056) | more than 6 years ago | (#20413207)

> First, he assumes that all elliptical galaxies have a point-of-view from which they appear circular.

All ellipses have a point of view where they project as a circle. Are you saying that his elliptical galaxies aren't elliptical? Even if they weren't, how would that create a selection bias?

> He doesn't give much real discussion to the error in the measurements, which is significant.

How would "error in the measurements" cause a selection to a particular orientation?

Random error wouldn't move the average, just make the distribution wider. In fact random error ought to make the distribution more isotropic.

Re:A grain of salt (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20413287)

Careful now, demonstrating a firm grasp of projective geometry and sampling/statistics is a good way to get a serious ass beating in certain parts of the US...

Re:A grain of salt (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20413409)

You are both idiots. Physically, elliptical galaxies are circular disks in space. They *appear* elliptical when viewed from Earth.

Re:A grain of salt (1)

Stranger4U (153613) | more than 6 years ago | (#20413585)

They can be circular disks, but they can also be elliptical disks, oblate spheroids, prolate spheroids. The article does a fair bit of hand-waving without addressing the fundamental geometry of the disk, just its apparent geometry. In fact, an oblate spheroid could appear the same as a perfect sphere to us; how then do you determine the rotational axis. Looking at the variation of the spectrum of light emitted from the galaxy seems like a better way to determine the axis or, at least, the base geometric shape.

Re:A grain of salt (1)

Tired and Emotional (750842) | more than 6 years ago | (#20413551)

> All ellipses have a point of view where they project as a circle

True, but the assumption is that that direction corresponds to the axis of rotation. I tend to think that failure of that to be true would tend to add noise rather than a spurious result. Unless of course there was some other systemic effect, but that would be even stranger.

Interestingly his method does not distinguish up from down so it does not mean there is an excess of rotation in one direction. Also it would be real interesting to generate the same data over a wider expanse and see if its consistent, and therefore a property of the universe as a whole, or whether it is a local property on a fairly large scale (and to determine what that scale is, in that case). Presumably it is significantly larger than 0.2Z since otherwise one might reasonably expect to see at least one boundary locally.

Note I just glanced over the paper and did not give it a critical reading for flaws. Obviously, such a startling result needs close scrutiny and alternate verification. So not arguing with the grain of salt.

Re:A grain of salt (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | more than 6 years ago | (#20413511)

Larger elliptical galaxies can be tri-axial and this is indicated by boxy isophotes, but these are rarer that smaller eliptical galaxies which can be described as axially symmetric. His sample will be dominated by these smaller ellipitcals. Regardless, aligning the major axis of triaxial objects would yield a similar observational result so long as a/b > b/c where a, b and are axis lengths in decreasing order. I would also say that randomization is a pretty normal method to examine to significance of a result (no pun intended).

Re:A grain of salt (1)

pla (258480) | more than 6 years ago | (#20413543)

First, he assumes that all elliptical galaxies have a point-of-view from which they appear circular.

This would necessarily hold true purely by geometry (at least using the standard meaning of "elliptical galaxy"), even if his more rigorous condition (Earth happens to occupy that magic spot) has no cosmological basis.

Although we can hypothesize the existance of some bizarre shape that always looks longer than its width from any angle, that seems a bit of a stretch (no topology-geek pun intended) when just about every sufficiently-large object in the universe we know of looks like some form of standard 3d elliptical blob.



Finally, the 13-standard deviations is not from any real sort of error propagation, but from some random computer generated results.

Having myself done modelling and analysis of real-world (cognitive psychology testing) data, I can assure you that in most cases, you can get a FAR better significance level by randomized simulations than trying to use preexisting data (or worse, just assume everything as Gaussian, which I've seen far more often than I'd like to admit). In the lab, you consider yourself lucky to have an n>10; in the local universe, we only have so many galaxies visible as more than a nondescript pinpoint of light. In both cases, you can quickly generate billions of samples that lack a preferential value for the traits of interest, giving you a much better population to compare against.

Re:A grain of salt (5, Informative)

Bazman (4849) | more than 6 years ago | (#20413601)

His "random computer generated results" test is what we statisticians call a 'Monte-Carlo' test. Its perfectly valid, given the assumptions he is working under.

Suppose you throw 10 possibly biased dice and score 50 in total (where the average score would be 30).

You then get 10 definitely fair dice and throw them 100 times, counting the total each time. If these trials only score 50 or more once, then the chances of your possibly biased dice being fair are 1 in 99. That's pretty much what he's done.

With dice its possible to compute the probability exactly without doing the trials, since the behaviour of uniform probabilities (ie even chance of scoring 1 to 6) are well known and easy to compute. But if you have a situation of elliptical galaxies and their apparent projection on a sphere viewed from the earth then I suspect the computations may be harder...

I don't see how this matters... (1)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | more than 6 years ago | (#20412959)

IIRC, there's somewhere between 100 billion and 500 billion galaxies. So, let's split the difference and say there is 200 billion galaxies. Now these guys say that 200,000 have the same or very close to same axis direction. That's 1 out of a million. Divide the sky up into 1 million directions. Now, 200,000 of them all point in one of those directions, and the other 199,999,800,000 are in the other 999,999 directions. OK. divide 199,999,800,000 by 999,999 and we get 200,000 galaxies aligned in every other of the million directions. Now, if there are MORE than 200 billion galaxies, (and there may well be) the numbers grow for that. and I would like to see just how accurately they can plot the axis of some far flung galaxy - can they get it down to 1/1millionth of the sky?

Now if these 200,000 galaxies are all in a particular region of the universe, THAT would be explosive news, but, unless I completely misread the article, this isn't the case.

As it is, I think the news is interesting, but I find it less than compelling.

RS

Re:I don't see how this matters... (4, Informative)

at_18 (224304) | more than 6 years ago | (#20413245)

Now if these 200,000 galaxies are all in a particular region of the universe, THAT would be explosive news, but, unless I completely misread the article, this isn't the case.

It is the case. They were specially selected to be close to us (redshift < 0.20). I suspect these 200,000 galaxies are a fairly significant fraction of all the galaxies near us.
Of course, they are close to us because more distant galaxies would be too difficult to investigate, but this doesn't change the fact that they are all in the same particular region of the universe.

Re:I don't see how this matters... (3, Informative)

BlueStraggler (765543) | more than 6 years ago | (#20413293)

My reading of the abstract is that he looked at a sample size of 200,000, and found a 13-SD bias to one direction in that sample size.

Re:I don't see how this matters... (1)

mcmonkey (96054) | more than 6 years ago | (#20413353)

Now if these 200,000 galaxies are all in a particular region of the universe, THAT would be explosive news, but, unless I completely misread the article, this isn't the case.

You misread the article. If memory serves, by putting an upper limit on red shift the discussion is limited to galaxies in a particular region--namely closer to us. Galaxies further away would demonstrate higher red shift.

Re:I don't see how this matters... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20413459)

Of course you've forgotten to think about the statistics of every member of the sample to have the same orientation. There is always the chance of an inconsistency in the sample set, since it is supposedly a random sampling, and relatively small compared to the total, but even so, statistically it should be approximately representative of the whole. As such, it shows an oddity of the entire sample set having the same orientation, implying that all the others do as well.

err, short version. The entire sample set is that way, so most likely, the entirety of the set is most likely the same.

Re:I don't see how this matters... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20413461)

A minor nit, but if there are between 100 and 500 billion galaxies, wouldn't "splitting the difference" give you 300 billion galaxies, not 200?

Surf's UP!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20412977)

As soon as the earth comes in to alignment with them, the extra gravatational forces will pull at our oceans, causing excellent surfing conditions.

Me^2
Slashdot Robotic Overlord -- +1 (510) 495-6380

ooh ooh ooh internet negro (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20413009)

nt

einstein was right (5, Funny)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 6 years ago | (#20413029)

god doesn't play dice

he plays with magnets

Report is incorrect (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20413043)

200,000 elliptical galaxies are not all pointing in the same direction.

I have it on good authority that 199,999 are pointing in one direction, and the other one is pointing in the opposite direction.

They were designed that way (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20413053)

Sign of intelligent design.

Theory to explain it already exists. (0, Flamebait)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 6 years ago | (#20413115)

It is easily explained by the Theory of Intelligent Arranger.

the rising cost of our lowered attention span (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20413159)

paying attention is cost-free, & the benefits are immeasurable.

previous post:
mynuts won 'off t(r)opic'???
(Score:-1, Offtopic)
by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 30, @10:22AM (#20411119)
eye gas you could call this 'weather'?

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=8004881114 [google.com] 646406827 [google.com]

be careful, the whack(off)job in the next compartment may be a high RANKing corepirate nazi official.

previous post:
whoreabull corepirate nazi felons planning trips
(Score: mynuts won, robbIE's 'secret' censorship score)
by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 01, @12:13PM (#20072457)
in orbit perhaps? we wouldn't want to be within 500 miles of the naykid furor at this power point.

better days ahead?

as in payper liesense hypenosys stock markup FraUD felons are on their way out? what a revolutionary concept.

from previous post: many demand corepirate nazi execrable stop abusing US

we the peepoles?

how is it allowed? just like corn passing through a bird's butt eye gas.

all they (the felonious nazi execrable) want is... everything. at what cost to US?

for many of US, the only way out is up.

don't forget, for each of the creators' innocents harmed (in any way) there is a debt that must/will be repaid by you/US as the perpetrators/minions of unprecedented evile will not be available after the big flash occurs.

'vote' with (what's left in) yOUR wallet. help bring an end to unprecedented evile's manifestation through yOUR owned felonious corepirate nazi life0cidal glowbull warmongering execrable.

some of US should consider ourselves very fortunate to be among those scheduled to survive after the big flash/implementation of the creators' wwwildly popular planet/population rescue initiative/mandate.

it's right in the manual, 'world without end', etc....

as we all ?know?, change is inevitable, & denying/ignoring gravity, logic, morality, etc..., is only possible, on a temporary basis.

concern about the course of events that will occur should the corepirate nazi life0cidal execrable fail to be intervened upon is in order.

'do not be dismayed' (also from the manual). however, it's ok/recommended, to not attempt to live under/accept, fauxking nazi felon greed/fear/ego based pr ?firm? scriptdead mindphuking hypenosys.

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Worst slashdot thread ever (-1, Flamebait)

Werrismys (764601) | more than 6 years ago | (#20413191)

The comments all suck. This one included. BOOBIES.

What "intelligent design" - just big bang (0)

unity100 (970058) | more than 6 years ago | (#20413375)

didnt big bang start from a point ? well you have found your point - wherever all of them have been pointing, it should be probably where it started.

Re:What "intelligent design" - just big bang (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20413593)

Now convince Christians, Muslims and Jews to fight over that point in space instead of Jerusalem.

initial angular momentum? (2, Insightful)

peter303 (12292) | more than 6 years ago | (#20413433)

An initial anagular momentum for the universe might prejudice galaxy formation.

but the Bush galaxy poinjts the other way (-1, Offtopic)

peter303 (12292) | more than 6 years ago | (#20413549)

- gratuitous political bashing
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