Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne Super Nova Images
Name: Gregg
Status: other
Grade: other
Location: AR
Country: N/A
Date: 9/5/2005


Question:
I recently viewed a documentary in which astronomers assert that they have captured images of actual supernova events. The process involved taking several images sets of distant galaxies and then evaluating any additional or missing points of light between the images.

It seems to me that due to Hawkening's theory that photons can be deflected by massive gravitational influences, that these new points of light could originate from an entirely different point in space. For that matter, how can we be certain that these points of light were not influenced by reflection of refraction?

They also stated that they were confused by their resulting data, as the photos seemed to moving far slower than expected. They went on to say this balks at the collapsing universe theory. why couldn't simple refraction, which slows photons, account for the deviation?


Replies:
It is difficult to answer the question as phrased without seeing the original references. I do not know of any reference that claims that the speed of light in a vacuum travels at less than the value of 'c'. The path length may change, the wavelength may change, but not the speed. There is a phenomenon known as "lensing" where a massive body (strong gravity) causes light from a distant source to be deflected (change of path length) but this effect shows up in a very characteristic way on the image observed from our vantage point.

Various "events" that occur on a time scale of fractions of a second have been reliably reported, and with the Internet it is possible for such events to be observed by multiple observers at multiple frequencies from the x-ray to the infrared to learn a lot about the details of these rapid "events", but I have not seen any reference to light traveling at less than 'c' in a vacuum.

Vince Calder



Click here to return to the Astronomy Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (help@newton.dep.anl.gov), or at Argonne's Educational Programs

NEWTON AND ASK A SCIENTIST
Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory