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Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/MIT/F.K. Baganoff et al


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Electric Cosmos

The Universe

Plasma Cosmology

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Oct 24, 2005
Milky Way Plasma-focus Plasmoid

Infrared and x-ray telescopes have confirmed the existence of a plasma-focus plasmoid at the core of the Milky Way. This high-energy electrical formation is the heart of the galactic circuit.

Recent infrared and x-ray views of our galaxy’s core have revealed a plasma torus (doughnut-shaped ring), or plasmoid, less than two light-years across. Because dust blocks visible light, viewing the core has not been possible until the advent of telescopes that can “see” infrared and x-ray light, which can penetrate dust. The x-ray radiation from the plasmoid is typical of that given off by highly excited stars, indicating extremely strong electrical stress. The strong electrical field in the plasmoid acts as a particle accelerator. Electrons accelerated to high speeds will spiral in a magnetic field and give off x-rays. They also give off x-rays when they pass near a heavier ion.

The plasmoid also accelerates ions—primarily hydrogen and helium nuclei—to high speeds. The ions collide and fuse to build up heavier nuclei. This accounts for the plasmoid’s observed enrichment in oxygen and iron.

The plasmoid is the “generator” that powers the intermittent ejections from a galactic core. In a galactic circuit, electrical power flows inward along the spiral arms, lighting the stars as it goes, and is concentrated and stored in the central plasmoid. When the plasmoid reaches a threshold density, it discharges, usually along the galaxy’s spin axis. This process can be replicated in a laboratory with the plasma focus device.

The discharge forms a jet of neutrons, heavy ions, and electrons. The neutrons decay to form concentrations of matter that appear as quasars. Electromagnetic forces confine the jet to thin filaments that remain coherent for thousands of light-years. The jet usually ends in double layers that extend for many times the size of the galaxy and radiate copiously in radio frequencies. The diffuse currents then flow toward the galaxy’s equatorial plane and spiral back toward the core.

A core plasmoid was first discovered in the Andromeda galaxy, our neighbor and possibly our “mother”. With this discovery of the plasmoid at the core of the Milky Way, we can expect similar discoveries for all nearby galaxies.


David Talbott, Wallace Thornhill
Mel Acheson
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