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 The Large Magellanic Cloud. Infrared image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/STScI


Nov 11, 2008
Half-Massed Star

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 astronomers.

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 Galaxy.

"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 considered.

Recently, the European Organization for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere (ESO) 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 activity.

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

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