A, B, C, D, Electric
investigators now recognize that Jupiter's auroras are
electrical phenomena. But they are struggling to understand
the electrical connections of the aurora's "tails" to other
bodies in the Jovian system—not just to Jupiter's closest
moon Io, but also to its second moon Europa.
For almost two years now, we
have been making the case in these pages that the "volcanic"plumes
on Jupiter's moon
Io are plasma
discharge arcs from the moon's electrical transactions with
the gas giant. In recent years a growing number of
scientists have acknowledged the electrical exchange between
the two bodies, as confirmed by Io's "footprint"
in the Jovian aurora above.
But now a new study reports that
one of the bright spots in this aurora is the footprint of a
continuous electrical exchange between Jupiter and another
moon, Europa. In October of 2005, the journal Geophysical
Research Letters published a report from a research team
headed by Denis Grodent of the University of Liège, Belgium,
noting the team's discovery of a short auroral tail linking
Jupiter to Europa. The report notes that this footprint is
similar to that of Io, but less energetic. Grodent's team
based its report on a study of 45 Hubble images of the
Jovian aurora showing Europa's footprint and its swirling
In previous attempts to explain
the electrical connection of Io to Jupiter, astronomers
suggested that Jupiter's tidal influence on Io provoked the
release of the observed charged particles in Io''s
"volcanic" plumes. The particles then flowed as an electric
current to Jupiter, as evidenced by the glowing electrical
signature (footprint) in the gas giant's aurora. But in
electrical terms this supposed one way transaction could not
be valid, and it left Europa dangling in "neutral" space.
How would its electric connection to Jupiter
"…Europa is not thought to be
volcanic, so what could produce the electrical current that
zips along and eventually gives rise to Europa's auroral
footprint?" the writers of the report ask.
Here we meet an old dilemma once
again. Standard astronomy begins its investigations with the
assumption--usually unspoken—of an electrically neutral
universe. So when investigators encounter electrical
phenomena, they rely upon local "generators" no matter how
improbable. And they will ignore the evidence for larger
electric circuits that have, in fact, already answered the
question posed: the local transactions involve circuits, not
one-way paths. And the local circuits are subsidiaries of
In the case of Jupiter, the
larger circuit is that between the gas giant and the Sun. In
the case of the Sun, the larger circuit connects the Sun to
a spiraling arm of the Milky Way. And there is evidence
aplenty that galaxies themselves are joined in still larger
electrical exchange. Where the hierarchy ends, no one can
say. But that it exists is substantiated by every line of
investigation that has been opened up in recent decades.
There are no isolated islands in space: All objects in space
are connected in a web of cosmic circuitry.
An electrical interaction
between Jupiter and its moons means that the bodies are
charged. (As soon as you grant that one body is charged, the
other body is also charged in relationship to it). Jupiter
is not an island. It stands in a dynamic electrical
relationship to the Sun, just as does the Earth. It is now
known that charged particles from the Sun, not a terrestrial
"dynamo", power Earth's auroras. The same thing can be said
of Jupiter's auroras, though this was as contrary to
astronomers' assumptions as was the confirmation of the
Sun's input to terrestrial auroras. Work by scientists at
the University of Leicester in the UK found “a strong
correlation between the strength of the solar wind and the
behaviour of [Jupiter’s] auroras". But this was "completely
the opposite result to the one we were expecting from our
Of course, what is surprising or
illogical from one vantage point may be "reasoning from the
obvious" in another.
A: Jupiter interacts
electrically with its moons.
B: Jupiter interacts
electrically with the Sun, as does the Earth.
C: The planets in the Solar
System are charged bodies.
D: The sun has an electric
Suddenly the elephant so long
"hidden" in the living room of astrophysics is exposed.
Since the sun gives off proton
storms, and the protons in the solar wind are
being accelerated away from the sun, it should have been
obvious all along that the Sun is the center of an electric
transactions between the Sun, the planets, and the planets'
moons are only to be expected in the Electric Universe.
Electrical connectivity is thus
confirmed by every level of investigation; it is not just
the reason for Io's "volcanic" plumes; it is the reason why
spews out icy particles in high energy jets; it is why
Europa and other
moon of Jupiter and Saturn and Uranus display vast networks
of channels that can only be explained as electric discharge
scars; it is why the planets have teardrop shaped Langmuir
sheaths; it is why Mars, moving on an orbit more elliptical
than Earth's, is periodically overtaken by
dust storms and Everest-sized "dust
devils"; it is why the Earth discharges to
sprites and elves; it is why remote comets
discharge so brilliantly as they approach the inner solar
system; it is why "asteroids"
comets if their orbits are sufficiently
eccentric; it is why comets sometimes
break up as they move through the Sun's electric
Once admitted, the Electric
Universe will not just alter a few imagined "islands" in
space; it will change the picture entirely.
Thanks to Michael Armstrong for
the primary scientific content in this article.
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