picture of the day
Large Magellanic Cloud. Infrared image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/STScI
Nov 11, 2008
Red supergiant stars and mysterious streamers of gas make the
Large Magellanic Cloud a fertile ground for scientific
speculation about its attributes. Of course, no mainstream
theories include electricity as a formative agent.
European observers have known the
Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) and the Small Magellanic Cloud
(SMC) since the time when Ferdinand Magellan attempted a
circumnavigation of the globe in 1519. Of course, Australian
Aboriginal people as well as other groups south of the equator
have known about their existence since time immemorial.
According to standard astronomical distance calculations, the
LMC is 160,000 light-years from Earth and is referred to as a
“dwarf galaxy”, one of a few that orbit the Milky Way.
In the image at the top of the page, the Spitzer Space Telescope
has resolved the LMC with astonishing detail. Hundreds of
thousands of objects can be seen: “cool, old stars” in the blue
regions and “hot, young stars” in the bright regions. The blobs
of gas and dust that appear reddish in the image are glowing
with the heat generated by the stars inside them, according to
One puzzling aspect to the LMC is the long tail of hydrogen gas
that flows out behind the galaxy (as well as from the SMC). Some
researchers suggest that the gas (called the Magellanic Stream)
formed because tidal influences from the Milky Way drew material
out in a gravitational tug. Others have speculated that the
hydrogen was cast off due to gas pressure as the Clouds
accelerate through the thin mist of gases that encompass our
"We've been left with a real mystery," said Gurtina Besla from the
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in September 2007. In future
studies, Besla and her associates plan to use
“n-body” calculations to determine how the Magellanic Stream was formed.
From the perspective of the Electric Universe hypothesis, however, making use of
formulae that rely solely upon Newtonian dynamics will not provide an accurate
representation of the hydrogen stream. Ignoring the long-range attraction and
short-range repulsion interactions from electric currents flowing through the
dusty plasma means that forces far more powerful than gravity are not being
Recently, the European Organization for Astronomical Research in the Southern
announced another puzzle in the LMC, a gigantic star that appears to be far
less massive than it should be.
WOH G64 is an example of a red
supergiant star (according to the conventional interpretation of
the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram) and is over 2000 times the
diameter of our Sun.
Said Keiichi Ohnaka, who led the team investigating the unusual
star: "Previous estimates gave an initial mass of 40 times the
mass of the Sun to WOH G64. But this was a real problem as it
was way too cold, compared to what theoretical models predict
for such a massive star. Its existence couldn't be explained."
After analyzing observations from the ESO-sponsored Very Large
Telescope Interferometer, Ohnaka and his colleagues think that
the star is surrounded by a ring of (comparatively) dense gas
and dust instead of a shell, meaning that the star is not nearly
as bright as was once thought. Because they believe that the
luminosity of the star is not as intense, it must therefore be
less massive than they originally thought.
WOH G64 is truly gigantic, if conventional concepts are
accepted. If placed in the location of the Sun, its diameter
would exceed the orbit of Saturn. The newly discovered ring of
dust that encloses the star extends outward for up to 250
Astronomical Units (AU) and may contain as much as nine solar
masses of material. Ohnaka reports that the star could be in a
severely unstable condition and could be undergoing extreme
losses of mass. In fact, the star is estimated to be one-third
smaller than initial estimates.
Could these observations and measurements have a different
interpretation? One that relies on the behavior of flowing
electric current? As we have maintained in several Picture of
the Day articles, rings, “bubbles” and spherical shells of
glowing matter surrounding stars are the signature of electrical
Close examination of the LMC, as well as nearby stars that are
enclosed by a luminous haze, reveal filamentary structures that
are hourglass shapes rather than toroids or spheres. The
structures are composed of plasma, not gas, and they possess
magnetic fields that cause the plasma to emit synchrotron, along
with thermal radiation. Thermal radiation is “mechanical” and is
due to the rapid molecular movement, while synchrotron radiation
is emitted from ionized particles in a helical magnetic field.
Electric currents in plasma are usually expressed through
Birkeland current filaments. The observed ring shapes are
actually circuits coupled to the hourglass-shaped currents. The
currents create vortex structures along their outer edges that
gradually morph into distorted wisps and curlicues of glowing
matter. The distorted filaments have been observed in laboratory
experiments as well as in the aurorae on Earth (and other
planets, such as Jupiter). The ring of material surrounding WOH
G64 is actually a diochotron instability.
Stars, galaxies, nebulae, and planets are all moving through
plasma in space and are affected by electric currents. Basing
cosmological theories on compressed gas, shockwaves, winds, and
so-called “billiard-ball physics” demonstrates that a serious
lack of understanding exists within the astronomical community.
Perhaps any degree in astronomy should include courses in plasma
physics and electrical engineering.
By Stephen Smith
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