A New Look at Near Neighbors – Part One

The Andromeda Galaxy (M31) in ultraviolet and infrared. UV: Galaxy Evolution Explorer; Infrared: Spitzer Space Telescope. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The Andromeda Galaxy (M31) in ultraviolet and infrared. UV: Galaxy Evolution Explorer;
Infrared: Spitzer Space Telescope. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech


Oct 11, 2013

A fundamental difference between the standard cosmological and Electric Universe models lies in their views about how the Universe was assembled over time.

According to the standard model, some time after the Big Bang gas and dust clouds organized into stars, stellar clusters, then black holes which merged into super-massive black holes. The super-massive black holes were seeds that gravitationally assembled surrounding gas, dust, and stars into in all the various galactic shapes and sizes. Dark matter halos are also thought to have played a role in gravitationally organizing galaxies.

The Electric Universe model takes a very different approach. There was no Big Bang, no distinct creation event, and the Universe is as it always was: 99.999% plasma. Over time, the cosmic plasma organized into cells, as plasma will do, separated by differences in matter and charge densities, bounded by double layers. Along the boundaries between these cells, filaments and sheets organized into Birkeland currents. The Universe self-organized due to the electromagnetic properties of plasma.

As explained by Peratt (1986), these filaments are very efficient at concentrating matter and “scrubbing” material from the surrounding environment. Galaxies were formed along the filaments, and this explains the chains of galaxies that seem to reside as pearls on a string. Large masses of galaxies also formed along the original plasma cell boundaries, explaining the large scale “Great Walls” and the grand sheets of galaxies that have been observed.

In the standard model, galaxy dynamics are driven by gravity alone. Where there are rotational profiles that cannot be accounted for by visible matter, dark matter halos are invoked to shore up gravity. Galactic magnetic fields are incidental, and are believed to build up over time from small magnetic “seeds” (again, bottom up). The standard model is also comfortable speaking of magnetic fields without concomitant electric currents.

In the Electric Universe model, the rotational energy of galaxies derives partially from gravity (where the core exhibits a solid body rotational dynamic), but also from electric current fed to galaxies by electrical “transmission lines” between them. In essence, the galaxies behave like a homopolar motor driven by the varying current density it receives. Galactic magnetic fields are generated by electric currents that are integral to their formation and ongoing dynamics. There would be no galaxies without coherent magnetic fields spanning their entire structure.

It is worth a few words here to summarize some very important seminal work in the paper by Anthony Peratt mentioned above. In his study, Peratt performed particle-in-cell computer simulations of Birkeland current interactions. The results illustrated how plasma dynamics lead to galactic structures evolving from double radio galaxies, to radio quasars, to ellipticals and then to spiral galaxies. This paper is thick with insight. There are some papers that you can read over and over and continually find new gems, this is one of those papers.

As Peratt’s simulations revealed, a galaxy evolves as two (or more) Birkeland currents moving together with an attractive force proportional to the inverse of their linear distance (note it is not the inverse square law). In astronomical observations, the two Birkeland currents are detected as radio “lobes” due to synchrotron radiation.

As the two pinched Birkeland filaments come close to each other, intergalactic plasma is trapped, forming an elliptical core at the geometric center between the two filaments, which later becomes the nucleus of the galaxy. Magnetic fields between the filaments condense and aggregate the intervening plasma, raising its internal energies. The elliptical core at this point is analogous to a radio quasar.

The two Birkeland filaments (also concentrating matter within their magnetically pinched volume) torque around each other, changing the morphology of the core plasma (flattening the ellipse) and eventually evolving into trailing arms as electric current, axial to the arms, flows into the core of the galaxy. At that point the two Birkeland filaments merge with the core. So the core of a galaxy derives from whatever intergalactic plasma was trapped between the two (or more) Birkeland filaments and the arms of the spiral derive mostly from the pinched Birkeland filaments themselves.

The rotating Birkeland filaments impart the initial rotational momentum to the galaxy-sized plasma structure. As the charged plasma structure rotates, there arises a concomitant magnetic field with a typical “dynamo” signature.

Current continues to run through the galaxy along the equatorial plane as part of a larger intergalactic circuit. This current as it passes through the magnetic field mentioned above drives further rotational energy as the galaxy responds as a homopolar motor. This is what drives the “anomalous” rotational velocities observed in the outer parts of galaxies.

The galaxy is also a homopolar generator, with the conductive plasma in the galactic disk sweeping through the same magnetic field. This sets up axial currents running through the galactic axis and stretching outwards to loop back along the equatorial plane. These axial currents extend to double layers over the galactic poles. These polar double layers accelerate charged particles to high energies resulting in “jets” above and below the galaxy.

Further magnetic fields arise in the galaxy as a result of the intergalactic current running in along the equatorial plane. The current running radially along the equatorial plane create local magnetic fields that squeeze the plasma into Birkeland filaments. This brings definition to the spiral arms. Further filamentation and higher current densities power star formation in the spiral arms.

Considering these very different viewpoints, a bottom up gravitational aggregation versus a top down electromagnetic organization, observations of the galaxies around us should let us decide upon the validity of one model versus the other. After all, the galaxies we observe should bear the marks of their history and the forces that drive them.

As it happens, two of our nearest galactic neighbors, M31 (Andromeda) and M33 (Triangulum), are very well studied due to their proximity. This makes them excellent candidates for comparing the relative explanatory power of the two models.

There are some interesting attributes to these two galaxies that are worth discussing considering the models discussed above:

1) M31 and M33 both have magnetic fields, similar in strength, but qualitatively different in morphology.

2) M31 has a distinct and very coherent magnetic ring about 33,000 light-years in radius.

3) M33 has a more irregular magnetic field, where the field strength seems to trace the spiral arms.

4) M33 has been said to lack a super-massive black hole at its core (that is to say, the rotational velocity decreases closer to the galactic core).

Examining these findings, as well as drawing upon Peratt’s simulations, along with similar work in the standard model, will challenge both models. It is important for theoretical models to be challenged, since it can ultimately improve their explanatory framework.

However, the validity of a model often rests on whether these types of challenges alter the model in its detail, or whether the challenge undermines fundamental assumptions. Obviously, the former allows improvement while the latter should inspire a more fundamental shift in beliefs.

Tom Wilson

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