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The nucleus of Halley's comet. Credit: Halley Multicolor Camera Team, Giotto Project, ESA.

Jul 28, 2010

Astronomers observed what appears to be a gas giant planet with a cometary tail around a distant star.

According to Jeffrey Linsky of the University of Colorado, "We found gas escaping at high velocities, with a large amount of this gas flowing toward us at 22,000 miles per hour. This large gas flow is likely gas swept up by the stellar wind to form the comet-like tail trailing the planet."

Does the data analysis from Hubble's Cosmic Origins Spectrograph (COS) support the contention that "powerful stellar winds" are responsible for the structure? Could it be a simple case of kinetic energy dragging the planet's atmosphere into space, or should another theory that explains more than just this observation be considered?

In October 2007, a Picture of the Day discussed comet Holmes 17P, noting that many of the "unusual" phenomena, such as filamentation in the coma and anomalous brightening far from the Sun, might find a better explanation in an electrical theory of comets. As long ago as 2004, when these pages were first published, Electric Universe advocates have challenged prevailing comet theory.

Hale-Bopp, a naked-eye comet that passed by in 1997, remained active four years after it left the inner solar system. When it was farther from the Sun than the orbit of Uranus, it was almost two million kilometers in diameter, displaying a coma, a dust tail, and an ion tail more than a million kilometers long. Astronomers are still unable to offer a solution.

On March 16, 1996 the European Space Agency's Giotto probe encountered Halley's Comet. To the astonishment of the scientific community, it was found to possess a hard, blackened crust. Jets of ionized gas, otherwise known as plasma, were seen erupting from three highly localized areas. As Horst Uwe Keller of the Max Planck Institut für Aeronomie remarked at the time: "We discovered that a comet is not really a 'dirty snowball' since dirt is dominant, not ice. Instead of being spherical like a warm snowball, a comet nucleus is elongated. The physical structure of a comet's interior is defined by its dust content rather than its ice content."

Shoemaker-Levy 9 was shattered into chunks that plunged into Jupiter's atmosphere in 1994. Space scientists thought that ices in the fractured nucleus would sublimate so that the "snowball theory" of comets could be confirmed. However, the Hubble Space Telescope found no volatile gases in the debris clouds. After one large fragment hit Jupiter's atmosphere, auroral emissions were seen, something completely unexpected.

In an Electric Universe, comet tails are produced when electric discharges reach a critical point and the plasma sheath surrounding the nucleus starts to glow. Irrespective of composition, comets obey the fundamental behavior of charged objects interacting with one another.

A comet's tail is created when its electrically charged substance is struck by solar discharge plasma, conventionally called the "solar wind," similar to what has been observed around a star 153 light-years from Earth. The faster a comet's electrical environment changes, the more likely that flaring will occur.

Exoplanet HD 209458b is orbiting so close to its star that it completes one revolution in a mere 3.5 days. It seems probable that it is traveling through conductive strands of plasma that are energizing it enough for its Langmuir sheath to enter a discharge state. Its "atmospheric steamers" are significant evidence for that contention.

Stephen Smith



"The Cosmic Thunderbolt"

YouTube video, first glimpses of Episode Two in the "Symbols of an Alien Sky" series.


And don't forget: "The Universe Electric"

Three ebooks in the Universe Electric series are now available. Consistently praised for easily understandable text and exquisite graphics.

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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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