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Hannon, R. (2006). An Alternative Explanation of the Cosmic Background Radiation. PHILICA.COM Article number 13.

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An Alternative Explanation of the Cosmic Background Radiation

Robert J. Hannonconfirmed user (Independent Researcher)

Published in astro.philica.com

ABSTRACT: The current explanation of the Cosmic Background Radiation, based on the Big Bang Hypothesis, is briefly examined. An alternative explanation is offered, predicated on a possible cosmologically-local situation.

Article body


I.  In 1965 Penzias and Wilson discovered the microwave noise now called the Cosmic Background Radiation (CBR).  It is purported to be a proof of the Big Bang Hypothesis (BBH), because it is claimed to be the remnant of the electromagnetic radiation (EMR) emitted  by the Big Bang, redshifted by the expansion of the universe.  The CBR has a "temperature" of 2.732K.  Its peak energy spectrum is at a wavelength of about 2 millimeters, and its energy spectrum is virtually that of an ideal black body.1

The belief that the Big Bang produced EMR is more an assumption than a provable fact.  Supposedly, during the first microsecond of the existence of the Universe, there were hadrons, followed within a second by electrons, positrons, photons, and (maybe) neutrinos.  How these were created is unknown, but their existence is postulated by the BBH.  Then for about 300,000 years there was a "Radiation Era", during which electron-positron pairs mutually annihilated and the resulting radiation became the dominant constituent of the Universe.2 

While gamma radiation is produced by  electron-positron rest-mass annihilation, we have no knowledge of how this takes place.  Each such annihilation of rest-mass supposedly produces two identical gamma rays each having an energy of 0.818x10-6 erg, which corresponds with a frequency of 1.234x1020 Hertz or a wavelength of 2.43x10-10 meter.  These values are determined only by the mass of an electron or positron.  They are the same for every electron-positron annihilation.  They are independent of the number of such events.  The kinetic energy of the pair contributes only trivially to the total energy, so the frequency or wavelength of the gamma radiation is virtually independent of  "temperature", and therefore almost monochromatic.  So it appears that the supposed source of the CBR should not have a black body spectrum.

II.  Is it possible for expansion of the universe to cause an observable redshift in light, gamma radiation or other EMR?   According to the Theory of General Relativity (GR), which is the predicate of the BBH, the Universe is assumed to be uniformly "expanding" relative to every point in space and time.  This expansion is not  limited to those points actually occupied by anything: space itself is expanding.  This is why the GR Universe has no center.  Except possibly in the locales of massive objects, the metrics of space and time expand in exact proportion, otherwise c, the velocity of light in empty space, would not be a "universal constant".

How does the expansion of the Universe proceed in terms of space and time?

Does the number of invariant standard meters and seconds between any two objects increase?  Do points in space measurably move apart?  This would seem necessary in order for us to observe the Cosmological Redshift.  If so, only the distance between points changes.  The wavelength of EMR already propagating space is unaffected; it simply requires more time to reach any distant point than when it was emitted.  If its velocity, c, is indeed constant then no observable redshift can arise from this kind of expansion.

Or, does the number of meters and seconds between points in space remain constant while the length of the meter (the metric of space) and the duration of a second (the metric of time) both increase?  Were the meter and the second shorter in the past?  This kind of "expansion" is not measurable, and would not produce the Cosmological Redshift.  Changes in the metrics would not be perceptible to any observer because the uniform universality of the expansion would require the meter and second of all observers, everywhere and everywhen, to increase by exactly the same amount.  Nevertheless this seems most consistent with the variable metrics of GR, and it also appears not to require kinetic energy to be imparted to every object in order to "move" it relative to every other.

Assume that it is the metrics of space and  time that are continually changing in exactly the same way, uniformly and simultaneously everywhere in the Universe.  It is impossible for an electromagnetic wave (or anything else) to have metrics different from those of space and time wherever it may be.  So EMR emitted at any past time cannot retain the metrics which may have existed at its birth as it propagates through the expanding Universe.  The metrics of EMR (or anything else) must change in exactly the same way as those of the Universe change.  When such EMR reaches the earth, its metrics will be identical with those of EMR emitted from the same kind of source here and now.  Thus a redshift due to this kind of expansion of the Universe would be undetectable by the usual methods.

So it seems that expansion of the Universe cannot cause an observable redshift in light, gamma radiation, or any other EMR.

Big Bang cosmologists evade this subject, and "explain" the supposed redshift of gamma radiation purportedly produced billions of years ago by applying the thermodynamic gas laws to the Universe, ignoring the fact that empty space cannot have a "temperature".  They assume that expansion of the Universe decreases its "temperature" and that of all EMR propagating within it.  This decrease in "temperature" supposedly produces an increase in the wavelength (or a decrease in the frequency) of the  gamma radiation produced by electron-positron annihilations billions of years ago.  Thus EMR emitted billions of light-years away from us is "cooled" in transit by the expansion of the Universe, and is therefore redshifted when we receive it.  No accounting is offered for the loss of energy involved.

III.  Are there other possible sources of the CBR?

The conventional wisdom says there are none, primarily because of the isotropy of the CBR: it is supposedly uniform to within 0.001% (1 part in 100,000) in all directions from the earth.  However, such measurements have  been made only within a radius of about 500 km of the approx. 0.25 light-year long path along which our solar system has moved in the past few decades.  Such observations cannot be claimed to represent the entire Universe.

Suppose the CBR is EMR emitted by a spherical shell of gaseous radiators, having an unknown radius of anywhere from ten to thousands of LY, and that the entire solar system has been moving inside this shell for many years.  At distance R (inside the sphere) the energy Er from any point on the sphere is Er=Es/R where Es is the energy at 1 meter from the source.  At distance R±D, the energy Ed of that radiation is Ed=Es/(R±D)2 so:

                Ed/Er = [Es/(R±D)2/(Es/R2)] = [R/(R±D)]2

                          ±D = R{[1/(Ed/Er)1/2]-1}

For Ed/Er=1.00001: at R=10LY, D=0.00005 LY=470x106 km.  At R=1000 LY, D=0.005 LY=47x109 km.  So if we are 10 LY from the inside of the shell, we will find its radiation isotropic to 1 part in 100,000 (0.001%) anywhere within 470 million km from our location.  If we are 1000 LY from the inside of the shell, we will find its radiation to be isotropic to 1 part in 100,000 (0.001%) anywhere within 47 billion km of our location.

The shell could be the residue of a stellar event that happened very long ago.  There is no specific reason why the energy vs frequency distribution of its radiation could not be that which is observed.


1.  Guth, Allen H: THE INFLATIONARY UNIVERSE, Chapter 4, Addison-Wesley Publishing Co, Inc, Reading  MA, USA, 1997.

2.   Silk,  Joseph:  THE BIG BANG, Chapter 6, WH Freeman and Co, New York, 1980.


Information about this Article
Peer-review ratings (from 2 reviews, where a score of 100 represents the ‘average’ level):
Originality = 17.02, importance = 21.49, overall quality = 25.00
This Article was published on 27th August, 2006 at 19:43:39 and has been viewed 6996 times.

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The full citation for this Article is:
Hannon, R. (2006). An Alternative Explanation of the Cosmic Background Radiation. PHILICA.COM Article number 13.

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1 Peer review [reviewer #997confirmed user] added 3rd September, 2006 at 08:44:25

There is a mistake in the article:

The energy of the two gamma photons totally depends on the total energy of the two colliding electrons according to the principle of the total energy conservation. Thus not only rest mass is involved in the lenght of the gamma photons but the whole energy of the colliding particles. Thus the energy is not equal for each such a type annihilation.

Originality: 1, Importance: 1, Overall quality: 1

2 Author comment added 3rd September, 2006 at 16:27:57

Reply to reviewer 1: At the instant of “collision” the KE of the electron and positron is always the same, because they have been accelerated toward each other by the force of their electric charge attraction. Usually, the energy of the two gamma rays is attributed only to the “mass anniliation”.

3 Peer review [reviewer #7116confirmed user] added 7th September, 2006 at 17:05:22

As the distance between the emitter and the observer decreases, measurable heterogeneity in the radiation should increase. If we are observing the local residue of a stellar phenomenon, it is very hard to explain an isotropism level of 10 ppm. We would have to posit that the solar system is inside an almost perfect sphere of almost perfect homogeneity. There is nothing in Sol’s recent history produce such a zone, and if such an zone were somehow produced long ago, we would expect that gravitational distortions would long since have rendered it non-spherical and thus anisotropic.

Originality: 2, Importance: 3, Overall quality: 3

4 Additional peer comment [reviewer #7116confirmed user] added 7th September, 2006 at 20:12:37

(Sorry for the break; formatting problem)

Even the older “shell” posited in the above paper needs to be viewed from a sphere narrower than the orbit of Pluto in order to achieve the necessary levels of isotropism. Thus the suggested shell would necessarily have been caused by a solar event. Moreover, this event would have had to occur in historical time, and not been noticed by earth astronomers. Even given these constraints, it seems doubtful that such a shell could pass through the gravity wells of hundreds of stars while retaining such a precise isotropism.

These are substantial drawbacks to the proposed origin of CBR, and seem worth some kind of explanation. (E Mitchell)

5 Author comment added 7th September, 2006 at 22:36:41

Response to second reviewer: I did state that the radiation from the sphere would have a “black body” spectrum, which infers heterogeneity of the sources. Divergences from that spectrum would virtually disappear over great periods of time. BB theory proposes the black-body nature of the CBR spectrum arose for zillions of absorption and re-radiation events during billions of years.

6 Additional peer comment [reviewer #7116confirmed user] added 8th September, 2006 at 00:08:44

If the shell was formed by a central radiation event, such a nova, then the shell should be expanding at nearly lightspeed. Thus a shell “tens or thousands” of lightyears across would not have been in existence for long.

7 Additional peer comment [reviewer #997confirmed user] added 15th September, 2006 at 19:11:58

I don’t agree with the author’s respond to my article’s critics, because there are many situations in which there is only one photon as a result of colision of the pair electron-positron, the energy of colliding electrons depends not only on their movement in the static electric field, but also on the radiation preassure, the creation-anihilation processes in which, for example, pairs of muons and antymuons are produced. Moreover the Universe wasn’t static, but constantly and rapidly expanding. If the elementary book in quantum electrodynamics were read then the basic knwowledge about the fact that the total energy and the momentum of the two colliding particles are involved would have been gained. Try to read books of Ryder or Halzen. The latter one is the simpler one. Moreover, there were fluctuations in the number of particles that gave the beginning of the galactics. So, the fluctuations were growing according to time. Thus, the alternative explanation of the background radiation, proposed by the author, in my opinion is wrong.

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