Astronomy: Are Quasars the Products Of Peculiar Galaxies?

By now, much of the scientific community accepts Astronomer Maarten Schmidt's contention that the faint stars called quasars are the most distant objects ever observed (TIME cover, March 11). But challengers remain, and they have by no means given up. Schmidt's colleague, Halton Arp of the Mount Wilson and Palomar observatories, for example, believes that quasars were ejected from odd-looking galaxies that are, by cosmological standards, virtual neighbors to the earth.

Arp worked out his novel theory after compiling an atlas of the "peculiar galaxies" that appear to have been distorted by cataclysmic explosions. Many of these distorted galaxies, he noted,...

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