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 The Orion Nebula in infrared and in x-ray light (blue).
Credits: AAAS/Science with ESA XMM-Newton and NASA Spitzer data.

Feb 18, 2008
The Electric Fires of Creation

Million-degree plasma in the Orion Nebula comes not from the kinetic excitation of cold gas, but from the electric currents of space.

For many years astrophysical theories of stellar and galactic development have been relegated to the processes of mechanical action. Everything we see and all the forces that shape the evolution of the incredible structures we have discovered have been attributed to the collapse of cold gas through gravitational influence. Conventional viewpoints attribute galaxies, stars, planets, comets and stardust itself to the whirling vortices of compressed matter.

Compression heats gas as it is drawn together by gravity, as the theory suggests. Clouds of hydrogen a thousands times less dense than a puff of smoke are somehow able to elicit an inflow toward a common center, creating a region of increased density that coaxes even more material to collect there and so on. Eventually, the atoms within in the gas cloud can no longer resist the inward attraction – it falls into the well of nuclear fusion, converting the hydrogen into helium and releasing a self-sustaining storm of radiation. A star is born.

In that same way, an object that emits x-rays, gamma rays and ultra-violet light is said to result from violent compaction when a star reaches the point where its energetic output can no longer resist the influx of inertial mass. Nuclear fusion has reached the end of its potential and the stellar envelope implodes in what can be described as a “gravity crash”. The rebound from that cataclysm forces the star’s outer layers to explode into space, forming emission nebulae, matter jets and bubbles of heavy elements that expand outward for thousands of light-years.

If the star is large enough, the resulting explosive event is described as a supernova – the star’s savage death drives gravity waves into the gas clouds of nearby proto-stars, compressing the hydrogen gas and beginning a secondary cycle of star-birth.

With the invention of more powerful telescopes and our ability to place sensitive detection apparatus into Earth orbit, astronomers are finding that the more simplistic explanations from the past are in need of revision. Rather than space being permeated with cold, dark clouds of hydrogen gas, alone, there are vast areas where “hot plasma” is transporting power over many parsecs.

In a recent announcement by the European Space Agency (ESA), the XMM-Newton x-ray satellite observatory has revealed the presence of “flowing plasma” at over one million Kelvin in the Orion Nebula. The discovery was a surprise, because the research team never expected to find such “hot gas” there.

Said Manuel Güdel, a member of the research team:

“We didn't look for it - we actually found this diffuse emission by chance while looking at the many stellar x-ray point sources in the field. As previous researchers have not reported diffuse x-ray emission from such star-forming regions but were rather arguing against its presence, we were indeed surprised to find such prominent emission across large regions of the nebula.” (See, Güdel, Manuel, Briggs, Kevin R., Montmerle, Thierry, Audard, Marc, Rebull, Luisa, and Skinner, Stephen L. “Million-Degree Plasma Pervading the Extended Orion Nebula.” Science, Vol. 319, 18 January 2008).

The Orion Nebula is approximately 2.5 light-years in diameter and is thought to be an active region where the nebular gasses are condensing into stars. In fact, at last count, over 700 new stars are said to be forming within the nebula. Stars of all types are considered sources for x-ray emissions (and many stars within the Orion Nebula do shine in x-rays), but no nebula is supposed to posses the energetic potential necessary for their production.

According to the ESA, the investigators believe that they “know” what is producing the plasma: it is the collision of “high velocity winds emitted by stars”. In other words, the flurries of gas blowing off the stars in the heart of the nebula induce heat through kinetic “shock waves” that raises the temperature in the environment to millions of degrees. Once again, although conventional scientists use the term “plasma” they really mean hot gas with no reference to an electrical component.

As the XMM-Newton scientists said: “The hot gas and the X-rays that it emits interact with the cool, molecular environment in which stars form. It may influence the environment of stars – for example, circumstellar accretion disks in which planets form – by contributing to the ionization of those disks. Such effects need further study, though.”

No further study is required when one considers the Electric Star hypothesis, however. Instead of mechanical action (heated gas), the Orion Nebula’s radiant emanations are due to a boost in the current that powers the central stars. The electrical sheath that is normally invisible receives additional input from the galactic Birkeland currents in which it is immersed and gets pushed into the "glow" discharge state. The increased flux density pulls matter from the star and from the surrounding space into filaments that ignite the nebular gasses electrically.

The idea that gas can be heated until it gives off x-rays without any electrical effects, or that a “wind” of ionized particles is not an electric current, or that the only way to accelerate ions is through mechanical shock is frankly ludicrous. It betrays a desire to hold on to outmoded theories despite the evidence of observations.

“Sometimes I think that astronomy is not so much a science as a series of scandals.”
--- Halton Arp.

Written by Stephen Smith from an idea suggested by Milt Hays Jr.


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Through the initiative of managing editor Dave Smith, we’ve begun the launch of a new
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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
Steve Smith, Mel Acheson
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