Langmuir Bursts

Solar flares. Mercury is seen as the bright dot on the right. Credit: Tom and Elizabeth Kuiper (JPL/STAR Prep Academy).

October 15, 2020

What powers coronal mass ejections?

According to a recent press release, solar flares are driven by magnetized loops of plasma. The magnetic fields in the “magnetic flux ropes” experience “reconnection events” in which the field lines break and then reconnect, causing explosions of “magnetic energy.” Some of that energy comes from “…secondary shocks from powerful electrical currents and accelerated plasmas trailing in the CME’s wake.”

No one knows what “magnetic reconnection” is. It is used to describe observations, but it lacks content. It is similar to the phrase “gravitational attraction”: an unknown phenomenon causes matter to exert attraction over distance, but the nature of that attractive force remains obscure. There is another problem with the idea of magnetic field lines breaking and then reconnecting: magnetic field lines are not “things,” they are schematic representations used to plot magnetic fields. They are no more real than lines of latitude or longitude.

Coronal arches and loops rise up from the Sun’s surface and penetrate its plasma sheath, or double layer region. Those powerful currents of electric charge form secondary magnetic fields that surround the loops. If the charge flow grows too strong, the double layers explode, interrupting the charge flow. The sudden discharge is what causes solar flares and CMEs.

In an Electric Universe based on electrodynamic principles and not electrostatic models, celestial bodies are immersed in plasma and are connected by circuits. The Sun is electrically connected to the galaxy, so it is an unstable charged object seeking equilibrium with its environment. Electric charge flows into the Sun from its galactic circuit, so it is in a constant state of flux.

In 1964, Jacobsen and Carlqvist suggested that double layers caused the release of stored electromagnetic energy on the Sun. That idea was further refined by Alfvén and Carlqvist in 1967. Later, Carlqvist postulated that electric fields could accelerate charged particles with up to 10^14 electron volts per unit charge.

Double layers develop on the Sun as electricity flows through its plasma. Positive charges build up in one region and negative charges build up nearby. An electric field appears between the two regions. If that stored electric charge is catastrophically released, it is known as a “Langmuir burst.” Those explosive bursts are what heliophysicists incorrectly refer to as “magnetic reconnection.”

Stephen Smith

Hat tip to William Thompson

The Thunderbolts Picture of the Day is generously supported by the Mainwaring Archive Foundation.

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