UPDATE: April 22, 2012
Dark Matter ‘Missing,’ but Will Astronomers See the Light?
On April 18, 2012, the European Southern Observatory issued a science release that has received international media attention, and has far reaching implications for the future of astronomy and the space sciences. The release discusses a recent study which has “mapped the motions of more than 400 stars up to 13 000 light-years from the Sun.” The report reads:
“The most accurate study so far of the motions of stars in the Milky Way has found no evidence for dark matter in a large volume around the Sun. According to widely accepted theories, the solar neighbourhood was expected to be filled with dark matter, a mysterious invisible substance that can only be detected indirectly by the gravitational force it exerts. But a new study by a team of astronomers in Chile has found that these theories just do not fit the observational facts. This may mean that attempts to directly detect dark matter particles on Earth are unlikely to be successful.”
For more than eight years on this website, Electric Universe proponents have argued for an alternative view of the cosmos, in which dark matter is neither real nor “necessary.” Astronomers believe that galaxy formation, galaxy clusters, and the motions of spiral galaxies require dark matter based on the amount of gravitational energy available in the Universe. But decades ago, Hannes Alfven, the father of Plasma Cosmology, proposed an electric galaxy theory based on a homopolar motor. Alfven’s successor, Anthony Perratt of Los Alamos Laboratories, using particle-in-cell computer simulations, has demonstrated the evolution of galactic structures under the influence of electric currents. Through the “pinch effect”, parallel currents converge to produce spiraling structures. No dark matter needed.
The article below by Thunderbolts contributor Tom Wilson – originally posted as a two-part TPOD in 2009 – offers the reader a digestible outline comparing the competing models. As the picture becomes clearer, the reader will understand why “missing” dark matter is a major surprise to mainstream astronomers, but not to Electric Universe proponents.
Mar 13, 2009
There seems to be a growing cadre of theoretical astronomers who are focused on mathematical recreations centered on dark matter without observations or data to interpret.
In June 2008, Universe Today published a report from astronomers Siegel and Xu, predicting about 10^20 kilograms of dark matter in our Solar System that was accreted over the last 4.5 billion years. Quoting Siegel in the original paper:
“Overall, we find that dark matter in our Solar System is far more important than previously thought. Due to gravitational three-body interactions between dark matter particles, the Sun, and the planets, a significant amount of dark matter winds up gravitationally bound to our Solar System, resulting in density enhancements between two and five orders of magnitude, depending on the distance from the Sun.”
The paper begins by asserting dark matter as a reality, without any doubt as to its existence. Siegel begins the paper by citing evidence in three key areas that support the existence of dark matter: First, cosmic microwave background (CMB) evidence; second, galactic power spectrum analyses; and third, galaxy cluster collision evidence.
In part two of this article we will examine this underlying evidence in some detail. However, summarizing the Electric Universe position about the initial dark matter assertion, the underlying “evidence” for dark matter is not so much actual data, but the cosmological interpretations overlaid on actual data. The real observational data is red shifts, galactic distances, and cosmic background temperature gradients. All else is inference.
The approach Siegel and Xu took in computing the amount of dark matter in the solar system was based in the assumption that there is a certain dark matter density in the interstellar space surrounding the Solar System. They used a value of 0.009 solar masses per cubic parsec (one cubic parsec equals 9.78 cubic light-years), which amounts to about 7 x 10^-20 kilograms per cubic meter, or about 10 to 100 times the density assumed for “regular” interstellar matter.
They then used relatively straightforward calculations to compute the volume of space the Solar System encountered in its 4.5 billion year history. With that, they were able to calculate the gravitational capture of the dark matter given the relative velocities of the planets, the sun and the dark matter itself. Without getting into too much detail, they were able to estimate a dark matter density profile with respect to distance from the sun and the different planets.
According to Xu and Siegel, the Solar System has captured about 10^20 kilograms of dark matter over its 4.5 billion year history. Questions that should always be in the forefront when reading any scientific report include: how valid are the underlying assumptions for the work, and how useful is it for understanding the Universe?
Putting 10^20 kilograms of matter into context reveals it to be vanishingly small with respect to the Solar System as a whole. This amount of mass falls somewhere between the third and fourth largest asteroids (Vesta and Hygiea, respectively). The determination does nothing to explain Solar System dynamics or the anomalous behavior of space probes. How this vanishingly small amount of matter translates into “a significant amount of dark matter” is difficult to understand.
The key, according to Siegel, is that the dark matter density near the Earth (3.3 x 10^16 kilograms per cubic astronomical unit) is now shown to be four orders of magnitude greater than the background halo density. This statement is confusing. Translating the dark matter density close to the Earth into kilograms per cubic meter results in 10^-17 kilograms per cubic meter. Remember the interstellar dark matter density was 7 x 10^-20 kilograms per cubic meter, which looks like 2 to 3 orders of magnitude.
Regardless, Siegel claims this “discovery” will help dark matter investigators because they’ll “know where to look.” However, by definition, dark matter is unobservable so it is unclear how this benefit will be realized.
A different viewpoint demonstrates that these investigators have based a paper on assumptions about dark matter drawn from earlier papers that are themselves based on different types of assumptions about dark matter and the cosmological model. There is assumption layered on assumption to the point where there is no longer any need for actual data or observations.
It seems to be enough at this point to construct a Universe and Solar System that astronomers no longer actually observe in favor of mathematical recreations involving dark matter densities and so on. In the end, this work has led to a conclusion that a vanishingly small (one might say meaningless) amount of dark matter has accumulated in 4.5 billion years. I’m sorry, I do not find this enlightening.
I encourage astronomers like these authors in question to go out on a clear night with a simple optical telescope and take a good look. They will see a Universe that is brightly lit throughout the electromagnetic spectrum, with electrically active plasmas stretching between our Sun and the planets, as well as between the stars and galaxies.
During the day using a solar filter, they will see the electromagnetic activity of our own Sun tossing immensely hot filaments of plasma into space. With bigger telescopes, like Hubble, they can see intricately arrayed Birkeland filaments winding through planetary nebulae. The heart of our galaxy is brightly lit in a sparkling electromagnetic rainbow driven by powerful electrical currents carried on intergalactic transmission lines.
The Universe is not an abstract mathematical construct of dark matter halos, black hole singularities or geometrically perfect neutron stars. It is filled with electric currents flowing through chaotically beautiful Birkeland filaments. These chaotic filaments are notoriously difficult to squeeze into linear differential equations, but they’re there just the same. Just go look.
An integral component of the standard model is non-baryonic cold dark matter (CDM). While there is abundant mathematical content about CDM, how much does that translate into real physical understanding?
The ΛCDM is based on six primary parameters, and a great deal of quantitative astronomical activity is currently focused on determining the values for those parameters. However, it is important to note that the ΛCDM model has a number of problems: there is no clue yet what particles comprise “non-baryonic” CDM, no explanation for the underlying physical nature of dark energy, and to a large extent it is really a “parameterization of ignorance.”
In part one of this article we reviewed a paper by Xu and Siegel about dark matter in our solar system. Siegel cited previous papers by others that claimed to categorically establish dark matter as a physical reality. The references included observations of the cosmic microwave background (CMB), the power spectrum of the Universe, and colliding galaxy clusters.
Siegel lists a key paper by Kamatsu et al (2008), a highly mathematical paper. Yet hidden under the dense computations is a set of assumptions concerning the cosmological model. The 5-year WMAP data used by the paper needs to be understood first. This is not data about dark energy, or dark matter, or spatial curvature, it is data about the temperature of the background cosmic radiation.
Through long term measurements, the WMAP study has accumulated a higher resolution image of the cosmic background radiation that radiates at about 3 Kelvin. Roughly isotropic, in detail it is slightly anisotropic. Determining the parameters for the ΛCDM model is based on fitting theoretical predictions on a measured power spectrum.
The determination of the ΛCDM parameters from the WMAP data is essentially a curve-fitting exercise with all the hazards that come with the use of complicated, highly parameterized mathematical models. Regardless, one key point is that redshift data is fundamental to the interpretation in the context of the standard model.
As it happens, redshift is not directly related to distance. Halton Arp’s book, “Seeing Red: Redshifts, Cosmology and Academic Science,” effectively refutes the long-held assumption about redshift as evidence for an expanding Universe. Without redshift and the Hubble parameter (a basic parameter in the ΛCDM model), then all the intricate mathematical superstructure of the standard model collapses. One cannot overemphasize the magnitude of Arp’s accomplishment or the extent of his ill-treatment by the astronomical community.
In support of the power spectrum of the Universe, Siegel cites another mathematical paper that uses redshift data from the Luminous Red Galaxy survey. The power spectrum is best described as an attempt to map the power per unit volume of space. To quote an interesting discussion of power spectra and the cold dark matter model:
The galaxy power spectrum is determined “…by performing galaxy redshift surveys and computing the clustering of galaxies as a function of scale size. This produces a set of correlation functions which essentially define the probability of another galaxy occurring within a radius of X from a given galaxy.”
Therefore, the power spectrum work supporting the standard model and CDM is also based on the assumption that redshift translates into recessional velocity (or rather its close cousin, redshift velocity) and distance. As pointed out above, this is a shaky foundation for the standard model.
Regarding colliding galaxy clusters, Siegel points to Clowe et al.(2006). In this paper, Clowe reports on an approach to directly observe dark matter through a unique arrangement of matter in the Bullet Cluster (1E0657−558).
Clowe makes a number of fundamental assumptions that color the interpretations. Perhaps the most important assumption is that most of the mass of the clusters is dark matter. Clowe also assumes that between 1% and 2% of the galactic mass is stellar matter and that 5% to 15% of the mass is plasma. We are left to assume that the remaining 83% is dark matter (which is certainly different from the 22% predicted by the ΛCDM model, so this is not even internally consistent). In essence, he is looking for what he already assumes is present, which is dangerous territory for an objective investigator.
Next Clowe assumes that galaxy clusters behave like collisionless particles, but the “fluid-like” X-ray emitting plasma experiences ram pressure. Therefore the plasma is concentrated along the collision plane while the stellar matter passes through. In essence there is a physical separation of the intracluster plasma and the stellar and dark matter.
The intracluster plasma is not fluid-like, it is a plasma. The plasma Clowe is referring to probably has a density in the range of 10^-19 to 10^-20 kilograms per cubic meter, which is about 1 atom in every cubic centimeter. This plasma will organize according to electromagnetic forces, not gravitational forces and it certainly does not qualify as a fluid.
As Professor Don Scott points out: “You do not need to place your electric coffee maker at a lower level than the electrical wall outlet into which it is plugged so that electrons can flow downhill into it. Charges in a wire constitute a (dark mode) plasma and gravity has nothing to do with their motion.”
The entire double cluster is permeated with plasma. The notion that the “dark” portions on the two sides are plasma-less is unwarranted. It happens that the plasma in the central area is under greater current density and is in glow mode (up to X-ray energies).
As Electric Universe commentator Mel Acheson points out in an earlier article about the Bullet Cluster:
“From an electrical vantage point, the Chandra x-ray image clearly shows the bell-shaped terminus and following arc of a plasma discharge ‘jet’. The strong magnetic field of the current causes electrons to emit the x-ray synchrotron (non-thermal) radiation captured in the image. Synchrotron radiation is a normal electrical discharge effect.”
Therefore, if there has been no preferential sorting of plasma along a collision boundary, then a primary assumption of the paper is called into question. Concerning weak gravitational lensing, this technique is rife with statistical pitfalls and other errors. In addition, weak gravitational lensing is dependent on distance calculations usually based on redshift.
In descriptions about the ΛCDM model, there are assertions about the model’s accurate predictions. However, it is important to note that over time the model has been mathematically tuned to match observation. There are many observations it does not predict, most notably the large scale structure of the Universe. Even what is more important, its entire mathematical foundation rests on a single assumption, that higher redshift equals greater distance. This is not the case, as Arp has made abundantly clear. Halton Arp has held the telescope there for his peers to observe the real Universe, but they have turned away in favor of mathematical recreations.
In an interesting philosophical aside, if 96% of the Universe is unobservable dark matter and dark energy, then why bother looking at the real thing anymore? Perhaps this is the unfortunate logical dead-end to a ΛCDM model.
Now Available – Seeking the Third Story DVD
2 Lectures by David Talbott
According to author David Talbott, all of human history can be seen as just two stories.
First, came the story of ancient mythology, when towering gods were said to have ruled the world. Then came the story of science, emerging from a growing distrust of the myths and a new emphasis on direct observation and reason.
But a third story is possible, according to Talbott, one that sees the underlying provocation of the myths in extraordinary electrical events occurring close to the Earth. To be believed, a third story must be more coherent and more meaningful than either archaic religious mythologies or the modern mythologies of popular science.