Cataclysmic Variables

GK Persei exhibited a nova outburst in 1901. Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/RIKEN/D.Takei et al; Optical: NASA/STScI; Radio: NRAO/VLA.

December 29, 2020

Some stars fluctuate erratically.

According to astrophysicists, a nova explosion occurs when a white dwarf star draws matter away from a companion star onto its surface. Gravity then compresses the material against the white dwarf’s rigid exterior, where it reaches fusion temperatures because of the extreme pressure. The resulting explosion sends pulses of high-frequency light and powerful shock waves into space. Astronomers describe novae as “like giant bombs going off.”

As written, previously, binary stars are common in the galaxy. In fact, most stars have one or more companions. Since stars are remote from one another, this suggests that something favors the formation of multiple stars. One possible electric mechanism is fissioning. A star’s electrical stress is concentrated on its surface. If the electric flux is too great, the star might split into two stars. The surface area of two stars is greater than the surface area of one, so the new system is able to accept more electrical stress.

Electric charge flowing in plasma generates a magnetic field that constricts the current. As pointed out in previous Picture of the Day articles, the constricted channel is known as a Bennett pinch, or z-pinch. Fluctuations form double layers with large potential voltages between them. Electric forces in double layers can be much stronger than gravity, and can cause intermittent electric charge flow.

This brightness variation is important since nova explosions are supposed to be based on nuclear fusion models, so there should be no fits and starts. Nuclear explosions do not exhibit variability in their expansion. So what could be the cause of these anomalies?

Double layers accelerate charged particles. Double layers can explode, releasing more energy than is locally present. It is this effect that is seen in stellar flares, or so-called “novae.” Fissioning to relieve electrical stress should present some common characteristics: brightening and dimming, a change in spectral type, and the appearance of a nebular cloud.

Nova (and supernova) eruptions could be thought of as coronal mass ejections that encompass an entire star. Photospheric double layers expand: the expansion rate and brightness are proportional to the power input. Double layers accelerate plasma, but also accelerate charged particles that are crossing them, creating high-speed collisions (along with synchrotron radiation) that shows up as X-rays.

Expansion into surrounding plasma generates shock waves, but those waves are driven by a surge of electric charge. They are not due to stellar H-bombs. Just as the solar wind continues to accelerate past the planets, stellar wave fronts continue to accelerate. Explosive debris, on the other hand slows down because of inertia.

Electric Universe proponents would like to see a complete revision of thinking where plasma and electric double layers are given precedence.

Stephen Smith

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

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