Nebula Henize 3-1475, the "Garden
Sprinkler" Nebula. Credit: J.
Borkowski, (North Carolina State
University, United States), J.
Harrington, (University of Maryland,
United States), J. Blondin (North
Carolina State University, United
States), M. Bobrowsky (Challenger
Center for Space Science, United
States), M. Meixner (Space Telescope
Science Institute, United States),
and C. Skinner (Space Telescope
Science Institute, United States).
A Spray of Plasma
Dec 09, 2010
Consensus opinions state that
a star in the latter stages of its
life will undergo violent upheavals
as its supply of hydrogen fuel
diminishes and the "ash" of heavier
elements accumulates in its core.
Before stars reach the final white dwarf stage in their evolution, it is thought
that disequilibrium caused by the fusion of heavier nuclei causes them to eject
vast quantities of matter—they "slough off" their outer layers. It is thought
that the expanding cloud of dust and gas is illuminated by the senescent star at
its center, and it is that reflected light that astronomers detect.
Nebulae come in all shapes and sizes: round, elliptical, interlocking rings, or
nested cylinders, sometimes with long tendrils and symmetrical hourglass shapes,
such as in the image of Henize 3-1475 at the top of the page. According to
conventional theories, such features are the result of shock waves, or stellar
winds blowing off the parent star crashing into the slower material ahead of
In the case of the Garden Sprinkler Nebula, the unmistakeable appearance of
twisting Birkeland current filaments is clearly visible bisecting the
center of the image. The overall
configuration is an hourglass, with braided filaments, and the shapes within the
nebula correspond to the filaments, helices, and pillars that electrical
discharge in plasmas creates.
In the laboratory, plasma forms cells separated by thin walls of opposite charge
called double layers. Could separation of charges also take place in nebulae?
That question might require centuries to answer, since the only way to detect a
double layer in space is by flying a probe through one. However, everywhere in
our own Solar System cellular structures separated by double layers abound: the
Sun's heliosphere, comet tails, and magnetospheres are all examples of charge
separation in plasma.
ESO astronomers have a
different viewpoint: 'To produce a jet,
you require some sort of nozzle mechanism. So far, these theoretical "nozzles"
remain hidden by dust that obscures our view of the centres of planetary
Electric discharges through
plasma clouds form double layers
along the current axis. Positive
charge builds up on one side and
negative charge on the other side of
this "sheath." An electric field
develops between the sides, and if
enough current is applied the sheath
glows, otherwise it is invisible.
Electric currents flow within and
across the sheaths.
Electric sheaths that are normally
invisible are "pumped" with
additional energy from Birkeland
currents in which they are immersed.
Electromagnetic forces draw matter
from the surrounding space into
filaments. The electrical power
pushes them into "glow mode."
Prevailing astronomical theories do
not provide a mechanism that can
form nebular clouds and their
energetic emissions. They do not
know how stars “eject” their outer
layers or how lobes of matter speed
from their polar axes. The reason
for that lack of understanding is
that nebulae are not composed of
inert gas, cold or hot, but of
According to Electric Universe
theory, bipolar formations are not
puzzling or surprising. Rather, they
are readily explicable and expected.
From nebula to galaxy, hourglass
configurations are one signature of
electric currents flowing through
the aforementioned plasma.
Thunderbolt that Raised Olympus