A Spray of Plasma

Nebula Henize 3-1475

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).

Nov 28, 2011

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 them.

In the case of the Garden Sprinkler Nebula, the unmistakable 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 centers of planetary nebulae’.

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 plasma.

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.

Stephen Smith

Print Friendly, PDF & Email