legacy page  
     homeaboutessential guidepicture of the daythunderblogsnewsmultimediapredictionsproductsget involvedcontact

picture of the day

chronological archive               subject archive


MESSENGER space probe data reveals Mercury's sodium tail varies in size.
Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory
and the Carnegie Institution of Washington


Son of Marduk
Oct 29, 2010

Mercury's tail represents another "unexpected" result when planetary scientists ignore plasma physics.

According to Electric Universe theory, comet tails are created when the cometary plasma sheath accumulates enough electrical potential to discharge, causing it to glow. Irrespective of their individual composition, comets obey the fundamental behavior of charged objects within a plasma shell.

Earth's cometary plasma cocoon, otherwise known as the magnetosphere, changes shape and power as electric currents from the Sun impinge upon it. Those electric currents are due to the movement of charged stellar particles streaming out in what conventional science calls a "solar wind." Earth's magnetospheric tail points away from the Sun because of the electrical effect of those high-speed ions.

As the Moon revolves through the ionized plasma surrounding Earth, the materials in the lunar regolith gain a negative charge, causing them to repel each other and drift off the surface. As was mentioned in a previous Picture of the Day, charge differential between the day and night sides of the Moon generates an ion “wind” flowing from the negatively charged night side into the more positively charged sunlit side. The electric fields between the two hemispheres can vary by as much as 1000 volts.

In a recent press release, the planet Mercury is described as possessing a tail of sodium atoms. This means that Mercury joins Earth and other Solar System bodies that exhibit tails. Venus has a filamentary tail so long that it reaches Earth at times. Neutral sodium has been seen flowing off the Moon. Jupiter's moon Io contributes to a cloud of sodium around Jupiter that extends in a comet-like tail for millions of kilometers.

However, as long ago as 2008, astrophysicists at the McDonald Observatory in Texas measured the tail of sodium from Mercury and found it to be over four full Moons long. One of the most interesting aspects about their observations was that the sodium appears to be coming from two high latitude "hot spots."

In previous MESSENGER spacecraft flybys of Mercury, the hot spots were found to be where material is being removed from the surface by "radiation pressure" from the Sun. However, as Electric Universe advocate Wal Thornhill writes:

"The most important process that of electric discharge machining (EDM) of Mercury’s surface. The problem of the astrophysics mind set can be seen in the language used, 'the stream of hot, ionized gas emitted by the Sun' is better understood by plasma physicists as an equatorial solar current sheet rather than a hot wind. Also the exosphere has not existed for the 'age of Mercury' since Mercury has not been in its present orbit for as long as astronomers believe. So we can expect more surprises when MESSENGER goes into orbit about the planet — as usual."

Since Mercury has no atmosphere and no magnetic field to shield it from the Sun, terms that have previously been applied to the Moon might help to explain it. If lunar phenomena can be explained by electrical activity, then Mercury's features might also be illuminated by that electrical hypothesis. Jupiter's moon Io might also be a useful model to use for Mercury's hot spots.

Io is in close orbit with Jupiter, so intense electromagnetic radiation bombards its surface, removing approximately one ton per second in gases and other materials. Io acts like a generator as it travels through Jupiter’s plasmasphere. More than four hundred thousand volts at three million amperes of current flows into the electric environment of Jupiter from Io.

Perhaps Mercury is experiencing something similar as it rapidly revolves around our primary. The hot spots could be where dense plasma foci connect Mercury with the Sun. Cathode erosion of Mercury might also provide a reason why its tail seems to be a filamentary structure, reminiscent of Birkeland currents that have been discussed many times in these pages.

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.

  This free site search script provided by JavaScript Kit  
  FREE update -

Weekly digest of Picture of the Day, Thunderblog, Forum, Multimedia and more.
*** NEW DVD ***
  Symbols of an Alien Sky
Selections Playlist

An e-book series
for teachers, general readers and specialists alike.
(FREE viewing)
  Thunderbolts of the Gods

  Follow the stunning success of the Electric Universe in predicting the 'surprises' of the space age.  
  Our multimedia page explores many diverse topics, including a few not covered by the Thunderbolts Project.  

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.
More info
Professor of engineering Donald Scott systematically unravels the myths of the "Big Bang" cosmology, and he does so without resorting to black holes, dark matter, dark energy, neutron stars, magnetic "reconnection", or any other fictions needed to prop up a failed theory.
More info
In language designed for scientists and non-scientists alike, authors Wallace Thornhill and David Talbott show that even the greatest surprises of the space age are predictable patterns in an electric universe.
More info

The opinions expressed in the Thunderbolts Picture Of the Day are those of the authors of
the material, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Thunderbolts Project.
The linking to material off-site in no way endorses such material and the Thunderbolts
Project has no control of nor takes any responsibility for any content on linked sites.

EXECUTIVE EDITORS: David Talbott, Wallace Thornhill
CONTRIBUTING EDITORS: Michael Armstrong, Dwardu Cardona,
Ev Cochrane, C.J. Ransom, Don Scott,
Rens van der Sluijs, Ian Tresman,
Tom Wilson
WEBMASTER: Brian Talbott
© Copyright 2010:
top ]

home   •   picture of the day   •   thunderblogs   •   multimedia   •   resources   •   forum   •   updates   •   contact us   •   support us