homeaboutessential guidepicture of the daythunderblogsnewsmultimediapredictionsproductsget involvedcontact

picture of the day            archive            subject index  

Supernova 1987A is the closest supernova event since the invention of the telescope.
 Credit: NASA/STScI/CfA/P Challis

Oct 04
, 2006
The "Iron Sun" Debate (3)
Exploding the Myth of the Imploding Supernova

When a star called “SK -69 202” exploded on February 24, 1987, becoming “Supernova 1987A”, the shock to conventional theory was as great as the visual wonder in the heavens. The event did not “emulate the theory”, but rather appears to have involved catastrophic electrical discharge.

Prior to Supernova 1987A, astronomers assumed that a supernova signaled the death throes of a red supergiant star. But the star that exploded— SK -69 202 —was a blue supergiant, perhaps 20 times smaller than a red supergiant and a much different breed of star.

Astronomers had long supposed that supernovae occur when a star “exhausts its nuclear fuel”, causing a collapse or implosion followed by a violent “rebound” effect when the outer layers of the star hit the core. The resulting blast, they said, ejects a spherical shell of material into interstellar space where it collides with its own slower moving stellar wind generated during its earlier, more stable phases.

But Supernova 1987A tells a different story.

Pictured above is the changing appearance of Supernova 1987A over a 27-month period as imaged by the Hubble Space Telescope. The photograph shows three axially aligned rings. The bright inner ring is about 1.3 light-years in diameter. The conventional theory of supernovae had not predicted, or in any way anticipated, the distinctive bi-polar structure of Supernova 1987A, similar to that of many nebulas now documented. Nor did the theory have anything to say about the bright "beads".

Since there is an entrenched habit today of reinterpreting the surprises of the space age as if they were not really surprises, readers would do well to remember the original statement by Dr. Chris Burrows of the European Space Agency and the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland, when Supernova 1987A was first discovered. "This is an unprecedented and bizarre object. We have never seen anything behave like this before”.  Thus, the “Astronomy Picture of the Day” for July 5, 1996, states without equivocation that “the origins of these rings still remains a mystery”.

Nevertheless, the inertia of prior theory is strong enough that astronomers continue to identify the rings as “shells” of gas struck by the supernova’s high-energy “shock front”—though it is only necessary to look at the pictures to see that the rings are not shells. They are tori (rings) around a dynamic center occupying a common axis—a characteristic structure observed in high-energy plasma discharge experiments. But the crucial feature of SN 1987A is the bright beads.

Both the number and position of the beads conforms to Birkeland current filaments in a powerful plasma discharge known as a "z-pinch." Electrical theorist Wallace Thornhill has predicted, "…the ring will not grow as a shock-wave-produced ring would be expected to. Some bright spots may be seen to rotate about each other and to merge. It is an opportunity …to be able to verify the electric discharge nature of a supernova."

More than fifty years ago a British scientist, Dr. Charles E. R. Bruce (1902-1979), argued that the bipolar shape, temperatures and magnetic fields of “planetary nebulae” could be explained as an electrical discharge. Bruce was ideally situated to make the discovery, being both an electrical engineer versed in high-energy lightning behavior and a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society. He was ignored.

Since that time, the structure and dynamics of high-energy electrical discharge in plasma has been well researched—most importantly, in the work of Nobel Laureate Hannes Alfvén, and over the past two decades or more by Alfvén’s close colleague, Anthony Peratt.

The work of the cosmic electricians bears directly on the “Iron Sun” debate. When Oliver Manuel began to formulate his model of the Sun, ideas about supernovae lay at the heart of his thinking. From a study of the unusual isotopic composition of meteorites, Manuel had concluded that the objects had formed from the remains of a supernova. In this, he was following a tenet of conventional astronomy, which argues that elements heavier than iron and nickel in the solar system were created by distant supernovae over billions of years. Except that Manuel concluded that the supernova creating iron and other heavy element abundances in meteorites was the precursor to our own Sun.

Though the Iron Sun model brings with it an insightful critique of the standard nuclear fusion model of the Sun, Manuel did not break free from the old gravitational concepts on the nature of supernovae; but he did add a new twist, suggesting that the Sun hides a neutron star around which accreted an iron shell after the Sun’s supernova explosion.

As the electrical theorists see it, the mistake of following a conventional myth invariably set Manuel on a dead-end course. The Electric Sun model, these theorists claim, can account for all of the strange phenomena exhibited by the Sun and its environment. And the explanations do not require them to guess what is inside the Sun or to posit unlikely events leading to the birth of the Sun.

Concerning the birth of stars, the Electric Sun model embraces the new science of plasma cosmology. Plasma cosmologists can demonstrate the principles of star birth in the plasma "z-pinch"; and they achieve their results both in the laboratory and in supercomputer simulations. In contrast, the earlier notion of gravitationally collapsing molecular clouds began as a theoretical guess and never found the required observational support. Nor has it been shown how planets can form from a ring of dust about a star, a crucial requirement.

Stellar explosions have always been a problem for conventional gravitational theory. What could trigger the sudden release of such prodigious energy? The sudden gravitational implosion of the entire star is an ingenious idea for a trigger but highly implausible because it requires spherical symmetry on the vast scale of a giant star. The ejections observed from supernova remnants show that the process is axially symmetric. However, if a star is the focus of a galactic electric discharge together with internal charge stratification, it may naturally undergo an expulsive stellar "lightning-flash" to relieve the electrical stress. An electric star has electromagnetic energy stored in an equatorial current ring such as the torus (imaged in UV light) around our Sun. As stated by electrical theorist Wallace Thornhill, "Matter is ejected at low latitudes by discharges between the current ring and the star. The Sun does this regularly on a small scale. However, if the stored energy reaches some critical value it may be released in the form of a bipolar axial discharge, or ejection of matter along the rotational axis."

Creation of heavy metals, according to Thornhill, does not require a supernova. In the electric model of stars, electrical energy produces heavy elements near the surface of all stars—a claim now given additional support by Manuel’s own findings.

But the Iron Sun model makes the curious claim that energy from neutrons, supposedly repelled from its neutron star core, provides most of the Sun's radiant energy and the protons for the solar wind. The Electric Sun model, on the other hand, says that external electrical energy, supplied from the galaxy, is responsible for producing the radiant output of the Sun, the solar wind and most of the heavy elements seen in the solar spectrum. The production of iron atoms requires energy input. So all stars participate in the synthesis of heavy elements. (This is a far more satisfying theory than relying upon rare supernovae, which then disperse their heavy elements into deep space). The solar wind is merely an equatorial current sheet forming part of the circuit that "drives" the Sun. The magnetic field of the Sun is generated by a varying direct-current power input to the Sun. It is only to be expected, therefore, that the observed power variations would be reflected in the sunspot cycle and in changes in both x-ray brightness and the magnetic field of the Sun. No mysterious "dynamo" inside the Sun could explain these synchronous patterns.

The Electric Sun model anticipates the building of heavier atomic nuclei from the protons and neutrons at the foot points of solar flares. But it also expects most nuclear reactions to occur in the tornadic discharges that form solar granulations (where the nuclear kitchen is in full view). In particular, the latter prediction fits the observed anti-correlation between neutrino count and sunspot number. The more sunspots there are, the fewer solar granulations and neutrinos. This unique correlation does not fit any model that proposes an energy source inside the Sun, unrelated to sunspots.

For an Electric Sun, what happens in the Sun’s core is of little consequence. We should expect an incompressible solid or liquid core composed of heavy elements gathered in the primordial z-pinch and later synthesized in the continual stellar discharge. But since the glowing sphere we call the Sun is an electric discharge high in its atmosphere, we should naturally expect the lightest element, hydrogen, to predominate as the plasma medium for the discharge. There is no need to postulate an internal source of energy to support the photosphere since (as direct observation confirms) the photosphere and phenomena above the photosphere, such as flares and prominences, are not governed by gravity.

The energy which fuels the Sun may be transferred over cosmic distances via Birkeland current transmission lines. This energy may be released gradually or stored in a stellar circuit and unleashed catastrophically. The cosmic circuits now revealed threading themselves along the arms of the Milky are the energy source for the supernova explosion– not the star. Only an external power source can explain why the continuing energy output of some nebulae such as Eta Carina exceeds that available from the central star.

A supernova does not signal the death throes of a star. There is nothing inside the star to "die." Nor does it herald the birth of a neutron star.

Please visit our Forum

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.

More info

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.

More info


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.

More info

David Talbott, Wallace Thornhill
Steve Smith, Mel Acheson
  CONTRIBUTING EDITORS: Dwardu Cardona, Ev Cochrane,
C.J. Ransom, Don Scott, Rens van der Sluijs, Ian Tresman
  WEBMASTER: Brian Talbott

Copyright 2006:

home  •  thunderblogs  •   forum  •  picture of the day  •   resources  •  team  •  updates  •  contact us