Sep 03, 2007
The "Galactic Mask" Unveiled
NASA scientists tell us that
two "colliding galaxies" in the constellation Canis Major
are responsible for the amazing, mask-like structure shown
here. But experts in plasma discharge might suggest a
In a supposedly
expanding universe still rushing outward from the Big
Bang, one would think that the vast reaches of space are an
unlikely place for "fender-benders." Yet the word
"collision" is extremely common in scientific press releases
these days, as astronomers grasp for explanations of
galactic events in faraway places. It is gaseous collisions
that generate the X-rays, radio waves, and synchrotron
radiation detected throughout the cosmos, they tell us.
The picture above shows the galaxies NGC 2207 and IC 2163 in
the constellation Canis Major in what astronomers are
calling a "cosmic smash up." The structure's unique
appearance has led investigators to dub it “The Galactic
Mask”. They say the mask's “eyes” are the galactic cores,
and its "feathers" are the galaxies' star-filled spiral
Vassar College astronomer Debra Elmegreen, the lead author
of a paper on the observations, said of the image: "This is
the most elaborate case of beading we've seen in
galaxies..."They are evenly spaced and sized along the arms
of both galaxies."
MSNBC's Cosmic Log website, describing the scientists'
observations, tells us that the bead-like structure of the
spiral arms is caused by "gravitational pressures
(squeezing) gas and dust into new clusters of stars."
The website also reports: “There’s one particularly bright
bead on the left side of the mask -- so bright it accounts
for 5 percent of the total infrared emissions coming from
both galaxies... Elmegreen's team thinks the stars in this
dense, dusty cluster might have merged to become a black
"To form a black hole that's outside the disk of the galaxy
is a real surprise, if in fact that's what it is," said one
of the research team's co-authors.
Experts in plasma discharge phenomena will use a much
different language to describe the image. For decades,
advanced research into plasma discharge instabilities has
documented formations precisely matching galactic structures
seen in space. As noted in an earlier TPOD, “Plasma
Galaxies,” plasma scientist Anthony Perratt, using
particle-in-cell computer simulations, has demonstrated the
evolution of galactic structures under the influence of
electric currents. Through the "pinch effect", parallel
currents converge to produce spiraling structures. Dual,
interacting currents can, in fact, present an appearance
surprisingly similar to that of the twin eyes in the
“Galactic Mask” seen above.
To see the connection between plasma experiments and plasma
formations in space, it is essential to understand the
scalability of plasma phenomena. Under similar conditions,
plasma discharge will produce the same formations
irrespective of the size of the event. The same basic
patterns will be seen at laboratory, planetary, stellar, and
galactic levels. Duration is proportional to size as well. A
spark that lasts for microseconds in the laboratory may
continue for years at planetary or stellar scales, or for
millions of years at galactic or intergalactic scales.
Laboratory discharge experiments have documented all of the
features of the “Galactic Mask” above. Indeed, the very
words used in the article could have been taken from the
lexicon of plasma scientists describing plasma discharge
instabilities: “string of pearls,” “beads on a string,”
“feathers,” and “mask.” In plasma discharge terms, the
evenly spaced “beading” along spiraling arms is a perfect
example, but of the “pinch effect” that, in plasma
cosmology, gives birth to stars. In a more familiar setting,
the same plasma pinch produces the oft-observed beading of
On the other hand “gravitational pressure” supplemented by
imagined “black holes” placed wherever energies are too high
to be explained through old-fashioned gravity, can offer
almost nothing to test scientifically. How, then, can the
theories ever fail?
The explanatory power of plasma discharge becomes even more
interesting when one begins to consider new evidence that
our early ancestors witnessed strikingly similar high-energy
plasma discharge in the
The rock art images above are from
North America (first row) and Easter Island (second row).
Innumerable counterparts occur around the world—all
presenting a common pattern that would seem to mock natural
experience: disembodied, often “hairy” eyes presented in a
consistently “non-human” form.
The pictures are not random, either in their geographic
positioning, or in their depictions of detail. And in almost
every instance they sit alongside equally enigmatic carvings
of other well-defined motifs, all chronicled through cross
cultural comparison, and now posing a grand mystery yet to
be unraveled by rock art specialists.
When seen from a larger perspective, three independent lines
of evidence – galactic structure, plasma experiments, and
images carved on stone – converge to tell the same story.
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