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Electric Cosmos

The Universe

Plasma Cosmology

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Jul 28, 2004
Electric Jets on Io

“Volcanic” plumes on Jupiter’s moon Io, up to hundreds of kilometers high, reveal features similar to those of electric discharge in the laboratory.

This photograph, taken by the Galileo space craft, is one of many images showing plumes of plasma jetting from the surface of Jupiter's closest moon Io and reaching up to hundreds of kilometers into space.  The first to suggest that these plumes were electrical discharge was Cornell University astrophysicist Thomas Gold, whose article on the "Electric Origin of the Outburst on Io," was published in the journal Science, November 30, 1979. In 1987 Gold's interpretation was supported by plasma physicists Alex Dessler and Anthony Peratt in an article published  in the journal Astrophysics and Space Science. Dessler and Peratt observed that both the filamentary penumbra and the convergence of ejecta into well-defined rings are characteristic plasma discharge effects that have no counterpart in volcanoes.

Further evidence was returned by the Galileo probe, which found the source of the plumes to be hotter than any lava on Earth--a predictable discharge feature in the electric model.  But perhaps the biggest surprise was that the "volcanoes" had moved tens of kilometers in a few years, another predictable feature of the electric model.

For the proponents of the "electric universe", the arcing on Io, in its electrical connection to Jupiter, is analogous to the arcing on a comet nucleus as it penetrates deeply into the electrical field of the sun. The one produces streams of plasma and dust that flow from the Jovian domain into the rest of the solar system, while the other produces the familiar comet tail.


David Talbott, Wallace Thornhill
Amy Acheson
  CONTRIBUTING EDITORS: Mel Acheson, Michael Armstrong, Dwardu Cardona,
Ev Cochrane,   Walter Radtke, C.J. Ransom, Don Scott, Rens van der Sluijs, Ian Tresman
  WEBMASTER: Michael Armstrong

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