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"Active galaxy" Centaurus A
Credit: ESO/WFI (Optical); MPIfR/ESO/APEX/A.Weiss et al. (Submillimetre);
NASA/CXC/CfA/R.Kraft et al. (X-ray)



Seeing Down Tunnels
Feb 09, 2009

Most modern telescopes, such as the Hubble Space Telescope, are afflicted with “tunnel vision”: their fields of view are extremely narrow.

In this they reflect the mindset of the astronomers who use them. The narrow vision is justified by the assumption that celestial objects are isolated, and the assumption is justified by the vision that excludes outlying objects. As one pundit has remarked, “Inside this circular cage of logic the gerbil of astrophysics begins to run.”

An example is Centaurus A (Cen A), a nearby active galaxy that was the first radio source discovered at the end of World War II, when no astronomer imagined that radio waves could come from the sky. A recent composite image (above) shows the dusty disk around the equator and the radio lobes and x-ray jets along the axis.

What it doesn’t show are the radio lobes and braided emission filaments that extend along the axis for almost 10 degrees across the sky. Stretching twice as far along the same line are a dozen other active galaxies—Seyferts, spirals, and ellipticals—that have redshifts ranging from slightly more than Cen A to 250 times as much and more.

If the Hubble effect truly indicated an expanding universe, these galaxies would be scattered as isolated bodies from 13 million light-years away to nearly 2 billion light-years away. Their alignment would have to be coincidental—a coincidence that borders on impossible.

Another thing that the image doesn’t show is the “supermassive black hole” that astronomers assume must be there to generate all the energetic phenomena that they see: speeds in the jets of half the speed of light, copious synchrotron radiation, strong magnetic fields, and shock waves. That the energetic phenomena could be caused by another mechanism lies outside the field of their imaginations.

The image does show several clues to such another mechanism: The dust lane is filamented, and the filaments appear to be braided, especially at the left and right extremities. This is a characteristic of electric currents in plasma, called Birkeland currents. Tiny twisted hair-like structures extend perpendicularly from the disk. These are typical of coronal discharges from high-voltage currents.

The axial discharges along with the equatorial disk mark out the structure of Alfvčn’s proposed galaxy circuit that would power a plasma focus mechanism in the core. That mechanism would repeatedly eject highly charged high-redshift plasmoids along the axis. As each plasmoid moves toward charge equilibrium, its mass would increase and its redshift would decrease until it evolves into a companion galaxy—as is occurring along the line of ejected objects.

Such an explanation that encompasses a view of actual plasma behavior would correct the presently accepted myopia that refuses to see what’s there and insists on seeing what isn’t.

By Mel Acheson






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