Sep 13, 2007
A "Doomsday" Stellar Flare
Scientists using NASA's Swift
Satellite have spotted a stellar flare on a nearby star so
powerful that, had it been from our sun, it would have
triggered a mass extinction on Earth.
A stellar explosion on a scale previously unimaginable for
anything other than a supernova recently erupted on a modest
star (slightly less massive than the sun) in a two-star
system called II Pegasi in the constellation Pegasus.
According to a NASA-Goddard news release, “It was about a
hundred million times more energetic than the sun's typical
solar flare, releasing energy equivalent to about 50 million
trillion atomic bombs.” Were a comparable event to occur on
the sun, it would result in a mass extinction due to the
outpouring of lethal X-rays. The NASA report, however, adds
a comforting observation: “Fortunately, our sun is now a
stable star that doesn't produce such powerful flares.”
But this observation may seem a little less comforting when
one realizes that, while astronomers speculate, they do not
know what caused the event. Stellar instability, whether
occurring as coronal mass ejections on our sun, the stellar
flare of II Pegasi, or a supernova, pose numerous unresolved
mysteries for astronomers simply because they ignore the
electrical influences external to the star in question.
The II Pegasi flare, though vastly more energetic than any
recorded coronal mass ejection on our sun, produced the same
acceleration of the ejected charged particles as was first
observed in solar eruptions. It is a compelling pointer to
the existence of a powerful electric field in the
chromosphere, just above the star's photosphere. Such
fields, driven by galactic circuits, are easily able to
accelerate particles up to a significant fraction of the
speed of light. The most dramatic example of this occurred
January 20, 2005, when the charged particles of a
massive solar eruption were accelerated along the spiral
magnetic field between the Sun and Earth to velocities
approaching one quarter the speed of light by the time they
reached the Earth.
Particle acceleration is only half the story. Astronomers
detected “hard” x-rays, which they euphemistically call
“non-thermal” radiation. It is better known as synchrotron
radiation, and it is only produced by electrons traveling at
appreciable fractions of lightspeed in a strong magnetic
field. It can be produced in laboratories—with electricity.
Gravity or hot gas doesn’t come close.
In disregarding the laws of electricity, physicists can
offer no plausible mechanisms of gravity or gas dynamics to
explain such accelerations. They postulate “non-electrical”
mechanisms for cosmic synchrotron radiation by extrapolating
mechanical equations far beyond the domain in which those
equations have been tested. They get away with this only
because space probes can’t check on them.
High-energy flares on the sun arise from the breakdown of
the current-regulating plasma sheath of the photosphere. The
resulting "short circuit" causes the bright X-ray flash and
acceleration of photospheric matter in the powerful electric
field of the chromosphere. In the case of the II Pegasi
explosion, the flash of X-rays was sufficient to overwhelm
Swift’s X-Ray Telescope. In the quiet Sun, this same field
of the photospheric sheath accelerates protons into the
corona, where they collide with the coronal plasma and raise
its temperature to millions of degrees.
The high energy of the II Pegasi flare is beyond the range
of energies normally produced by gravity and gas mechanisms,
but it is well within the range of electrical interactions.
Astronomers are shocked only because they touched the “live
wire” of cosmic plasma without donning the insulating gloves
of electric plasma theory.
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