Stephen Smith: Little Star Lost
Astronomical theories predict that a planetary nebula in the constellation Centaurus should harbor a white dwarf star at its center. However, such a star cannot be found.And here's another example of science getting it wrong: Ancient Galactic Magnetic Fields Stronger than Expected.
NASA scientists are on the hunt for a missing star. A recent press release from researchers operating the Hubble Space Telescope has described SuWt 2 as a luminous ring of dust and gas with hourglass-shaped longitudinal discharges. Astrophysicists expected the nebular material to be shining because of extreme ultraviolet radiation from a white dwarf star at its center. However, no such star is there and the ultraviolet light has not been detected.
The nebular ring (or spherical shell) does contain a pair of stars in orbit about a common center of gravity, moving at a velocity of one revolution every five days. The stellar pair is more than 100 times brighter than the Sun and nearly three times hotter. Although the stars are so hot and shine so brightly, the radiation is not powerful enough to energize the nebula. As NASA investigators assume, only a flood of ultraviolet light, such as that from the missing white dwarf, could do that.
Since their initial discovery 200 or more years ago, planetary nebulae have demonstrated behaviors and characteristics that are not easy to explain. They exhibit helical loops, rings, bubbles, jets, lobes and many other features that seem to trump standard theories. They are said to be composed of hot gas and owe their morphology to the influence of shockwaves from exploding stars or the pressure from stellar winds blowing through them. In some cases, the nebular forms are described as “like a windsock” inflated by a strong breeze.
Astronomical theories do not yet have a mechanism for the nebular clouds and energetic emissions that have been found. They do not know how stars “shrug off” their outer layers or how they eject lobate structures from their polar axes. The reason for the misunderstanding is that nebulae are composed not of hot gas, but of plasma. Gases obey the laws of kinetic motion: molecules bump into each other due to thermal energy or they are accelerated by the impetus imparted by other fast-moving particles.
Plasma behaves in accordance with the laws of electricity rather than Newtonian physics. Stars are created within Birkeland currents that flow in a great circuit through the galaxy. The Bennett pinch effect squeezes plasma inside these cosmic “transmission lines” in space, igniting stars and forming toroidal currents around the stellar equators. It is actually the electrical current density that causes the plasma in nebular rings and shells to glow.
According to the Electric Universe hypothesis, SuWt 2 is actually an hourglass-shaped toroid viewed in perspective. The binary star in the center of the nebula generates a current sheet along the system’s equatorial plane that astronomers have misidentified as a stellar wind. The Birkeland currents pass through regions of greater density in the disc of gases around the twin stars, causing the disc to light up in a bright ring like a searchlight illuminating clouds in the sky. As the publicized observations have confirmed, the ring is not lit by ultraviolet radiation.
"It was thought that, looking back in the past, earlier galaxies would not have generated much magnetic field," Kronberg said. "The results of this study show that the magnetic fields within Milky Way-like galaxies have been every bit as strong over the last two-thirds of the Universe's age as they are now-and possibly even stronger then."
Serving as a looking glass into the past, the powerful telescope at the European Southern Observatory, adding to the radio RM data, allowed the scientists to make observations of high magnetic fields between 8 billion and 9 billion years ago for 70 intervening galaxies whose faint optical absorption spectra revealed them as "normal" galaxies. That means that several billion years before the existence of our own sun, and within only a few billion years of the Big Bang, ancient galaxies were exerting the tug of these strong magnetic fields.
This research suggests that the magnetic fields in galaxies did not arise due to a slow, large-scale dynamo effect, which would have taken 5 billion to 10 billion years to reach their current measured levels. "There must be some other explanation for a much quicker and earlier amplification of galactic magnetic fields," Kronberg said. "From the time when the first stars and galaxies formed, their magnetic fields have probably have been amplified by very fast dynamos. One good possibility is that it happened in the explosive outflows that were driven by supernovae, and possibly even black holes in the very earliest generations of galaxies."
This realization brings a new focus on the broader question of how galaxies form. Instead of the commonly held view that magnetic fields have little relevance to the genesis of new galaxies, it now appears that they are indeed important players.