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Credit: NASA, ESA, H. Weaver (JHU/APL), M. Mutchler and Z. Levay (STScI)

May 08, 2006
Comet Schwassman-Wachmann 3 Disintegrates (2)
Predictions of the Electric Model

Worldwide telescopic observations continue to record the catastrophic dissolution of Comet Schwassman-Wachmann 3, offering critical tests of both the standard model and its alternative, the electric comet.

Modern instruments are finding secrets of comets that throw accepted theory into turmoil. The appearance of each comet is followed by the appearance of new, often contradictory, models. And rather than help to reconcile the competing and mutually contradictory models, each new discovery seems only to add to the gap between prior theory and actual discovery.

Any theory seeking to explain comet behavior must account for the defining attributes of comets. And one peculiarity now on the minds of cometologists is the unpredictable fragmentation of comets, often at distances from the Sun that eliminate the appeal to gravitational stresses on the comet. In fact, eighty percent of comets that split do so when they are far from the Sun, according to Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan, authors of the book Comet. Thus the authors conceded, "the problem remains unsolved".

Why has Schwassmann-Wachmann 3 fragmented so rapidly in its most recent approach? We know that in its passage in 1995 it broke into at least three fragments. But now "an amazing process of hierarchical destruction is taking place, in which the larger fragments are continuing to break up into smaller chunks". (See ESA movie of the breakup here). Given the surge of attention on the comet, more information will surely be forthcoming in the weeks ahead as observatories begin to announce their findings. But even now the predictions of the electric model contrast so sharply with those of the standard model that we are confident in registering these preliminary observations and predictions—

The most noticeable thing is that the comet fragments do not "light up" until they are a considerable distance from the comet nucleus. This is contrary to the argument that the cometary display is due to exposed ices sublimating in sunlight. We should then expect that the fragments would expose fresh ices and appear bright from the moment they leave the nucleus. In contrast, the electrical model expects the fragments to be at the same voltage as the parent nucleus, so that they will not begin to discharge and form their own cometary display until they leave the immediate electrical influence of the parent. In addition, the brightness of each fragment will vary as it moves in and out of the current filaments from the parent comet and other fragments. And it will fade as the charge on the fragment is dissipated.

At the heart of comet theory is the astronomers' unsubstantiated claim that cometary displays are largely a result of water evaporation. In contrast, electrical theorist Wal Thornhill and his colleagues have repeatedly predicted that the required water levels in the nucleus will not be found. (See summaries here and here;. facts already in hand virtually preclude abundant ices on the nuclei of most comets.)

But when astronomers view the comas of comets spectroscopically, their own preconceptions deceive them. They are not seeing water. (If it were there, it would not be visible). What they actually see is the hydroxyl radical (OH), which they assume to be a residue of water (H2O) as it is broken down by the ultraviolet light of the Sun. This assumption is not only unwarranted, it requires a speed of "processing" by solar radiation beyond anything that can be demonstrated experimentally.

The explanation for the OH in cometary comas will be found in the energetic exchange between the electrically charged comet and the oppositely charged solar wind. The point was stated in an earlier Picture of the Day: "In the electric model, negative oxygen ions will be accelerated away from the comet in energetic jets, then combine preferentially with protons from the solar wind to form the observed OH radical and the neutral hydrogen gathered around the coma in vast concentric bubbles. The reactions simply confirm the energetic charge exchange between the nucleus and Sun."

The fragmentation of comet nuclei provides a telling opportunity to see if the ices that standard theory expects are actually there. But the time to look is in the early stages of an explosive outburst, before charge exchange with the Sun deceives astronomers. The electric model would anticipate that, with each outburst, observatories may record a decline in the relative abundance of water, before they report an increase in water (their interpretation, due to the presence of OH). As recent missions to comets have shown, water is consistently missing from the nuclei of comets but supposedly present in the comas. If the OH is, in fact, being manufactured through reactions with the solar wind, the contradictions are resolved.

Due to the electric force acting on the comet fragments their behavior should be carefully observed for gravity-defying accelerations. Factors that need to be taken into account include the speed of separation as new fragments move apart, and the collective gathering of these masses in the general direction of the tail—all in blatant disregard for the rules of gravity.

Here is the "explanation" given on the Hubble site:

"Sequential Hubble images of the B fragment, taken a few days apart, suggest that the chunks are pushed down the tail by outgassing from the icy, sunward-facing surfaces of the chunks, much like space-walking astronauts are propelled by their jetpacks. The smaller chunks have the lowest mass, and so are accelerated away from the parent nucleus faster than the larger chunks. Some of the chunks seem to dissipate completely over the course of several days".

But there is no factual basis for comparing a comet's "jets" to the "jetpacks" of astronauts. In fact, the Hubble statement suggests an obvious experiment that would quickly disabuse astronomers of their notions about cometary jets. Future astronauts should toss some chunks of ice out the door of the space shuttle and see if "jets" created by warming from the Sun move them away from the Sun!

The supersonic velocities of the comet's jets have nothing to do with the expelling of gases from imagined internal chambers. We've now visited enough comets to see that the supposed jet chambers do not exist. All of the evidence suggests that material is being excavated electrically, then accelerated into space. In fact, the presence of such energetic jets came as a great surprise to astronomers only because they had never considered the possibility that a comet is a charged body moving through the electric field of the Sun.

As noted above, if the explanation given on the Hubble site were correct, we should see the fragments at their brightest as they leave the nucleus. But we don't see them until they are a great distance away from their source. In electrical terms the smaller fragments will naturally accelerate faster because the electric force will be the same on each fragment, regardless of its mass.

It might also be worth looking for a relationship between solar outbursts and flaring of fragments. The electrical model would expect some occurrence of simultaneous outbursts of separated fragments. The old school would have a hard time explaining that.

Since we have identified the mechanism of comet disintegration as that of an exploding capacitor, the stresses to the mechanisms operating in earthquakes. In our Picture of the Day, "
Sunspots and Earthquakes" we noted: "All that is required to trigger the comet fragmentation is an electrical breakdown within the comet. In this sense, it may be analogous to the electrical breakdown evident in an earthquake. And that breakdown in the comet may happen with any sudden change in the solar plasma environment. The more sudden the change in the comet's electrical environment, the more likely that flaring and fragmentation will occur".


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The Electric Sky and The Electric Universe available now!


Authors David Talbott and Wallace Thornhill introduce the reader to an age of planetary instability and earthshaking electrical events in ancient times. If their hypothesis is correct, it could not fail to alter many paths of scientific investigation.

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Professor of engineering Donald Scott systematically unravels the myths of the "Big Bang" cosmology, and he does so without resorting to black holes, dark matter, dark energy, neutron stars, magnetic "reconnection", or any other fictions needed to prop up a failed theory.

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In language designed for scientists and non-scientists alike, authors Wallace Thornhill and David Talbott show that even the greatest surprises of the space age are predictable patterns in an electric universe.

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David Talbott, Wallace Thornhill
Michael Armstrong
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