2. Why do astrophysicists call long, tenuous filaments of matter between stars “clouds”, even though the clouds are frequently highly filamentary?
Neutral hydrogen (HI) surveys at high galactic latitudes show that the interstellar gas is filamentary; see for example Verschuur (1973, 1974a, 1974b, 1991a, 1991b) and Verschuur et al. (1992). The filamentary nature of the HI is also dramatically evident in the data by Colomb, Poppel, and Heiles (1980) and the new all–sky Leiden–Dwingeloo HI survey (Hartmann, 1994). What, then, is the relationship between such fialments and magnetic fields that thread their way through interstellar space? And is it possible that the origin and stability of the filaments depends on the existence of large–scale currents as found by Carlqvist and Gahm (1992).
Take a closer look at the “clouds”, and notice the knots – occasionally referred to as kinks …
3. Why do laboratory plasmas naturally form into filaments which exhibit both long-range attraction and short-range repulsion?
Look carefully at the area where the filaments touch the glass. Notice that what appears as one filament is actually multiple. They tend to twist around one another, yet without combining. This is not a simple structure. It requires at least two different forces, and all of this structure and these forces emerge naturally in the presence of charged particles, a gas and an applied voltage …
Note that the force between two filaments wrapped around one another is extraordinarily stronger than the force of gravity. But, more importantly, note that the geometry permits the transmission of this force to infinite distances, long after gravity has stopped having any consequential effect.
4. So, what happens when the charge density of these plasma filaments increases?
The plasma filaments pinch together until they change state to a pinch.
5. Why are planetary nebulae so commonly hourglass shapes?
Consensus theory has PNs being formed in stars’ old age. A dying star “blows” its outer layers into the surrounding interstellar “gas.” One envisions a spherical bubble of far-apart atoms expanding into a medium of even-farther-apart atoms. Theory would have us believe that somehow enough of these atoms collide to produce a shock wave in the near vacuum of space. Perhaps that’s a plausible assumption: We have no way to test it in a lab because we can’t produce a vacuum of that magnitude.
Still: it’s spherical. Now shock waves in dense media can get pretty complicated. But PNs exhibit butterfly or hourglass shapes, filamented hourglass shapes, braided filamented hourglass shapes. Even the ones that appear circular give evidence that they are hourglass shapes seen down the axis. There’s nothing spherical about them; there’s nothing random (as if from complicated shock waves).
6. Why do the HI hydrogen filaments observed by radio astronomers commonly exhibit redshifts at very specific velocity values?
Redshift is traditionally interpreted by reference to Doppler shift. But, when radio astronomers study the movements of the interstellar filaments, these inferred velocities tend to center on very specific values …
Narrow line widths from 3 to 6 km s~1 predominated in the sample of profiles they used for Gaussian analysis, with the histogram of the line widths suggesting a second peak around 13 km s~1. A much broader line width regime in the 25 to 40 km s~1 range was also present in their data
In the present paper the HI data are discussed and the possible origin of the line width regimes considered. In a subsequent paper Peratt & Verschuur 1999), a new approach to the data first offered by Peratt & Verschuur (1998) suggests that the four line width categories be considered in the context of the critical ionization velocity (CIV) phenomenon in interstellar space, a phenomenon originally proposed by Alfven (1942, 1954, 1960) and since studied in the laboratory and in interplanetary space (Brenning 1992a, 1992b).
It is stressed that one of us (G.L.V.) spent several years analyzing the shapes of HI emission profiles and pondering the meaning of the three basic line width regimes well before he learned of the existence of the CIV phenomenon. To that extent, the earlier data are free of bias in data analysis favoring component line widths that may lead to an association with any other physical phenomenon.
The data obtained subsequently are largely from the L-D Survey and were studied in order to show whether the broad component 1 originally identified by Verschuur & Magnani (1994) was real. This latter analysis confirmed the existence of component 1, which raised the question of why HI profiles could have a width so very much greater than any allowed by neutral gas, since the component 1 line width, if simply interpreted, implies that the neutral hydrogen has a physically impossible kinetic temperature of ~52,500 K, since the gas would be fully ionized at this value.
Look at the data, and note the labels on the histograms, 1a, 1b, 2 and 3. Those are the CIV “bands”, and they coincidentally correspond to the universe’s most common elements. We should expect some slight misalignment here, because there is also, of course, Doppler effect added on top of this …
From the conclusion for that same paper …
[We] note that the line width regimes show a striking resemblance to a set of velocity regimes described by a plasma physical mechanism called the critical ionization phenomenon.
When a low-density neutral gas flows through a low-density plasma permeated by a magnetic field, neutral atoms ionize when their velocity relative to the plasma is such that their kinetic energy exceeds the ionization potential of the neutrals. The magnitudes of the critical ionization velocities (CIVs) for common atomic species fall into three distinct bands. Band I includes hydrogen, with a CIV of 51 km s~1, and He, with a CIV of 34 km s~1, band II includes C, N, and O, with CIVs around 13.5 km s~1; and band III includes heavier atomic species such as Na and Ca, with CIVs around 6 km s~1. We regard the coincidence between the magnitudes of the CIVs for common interstellar atoms and HI line width regimes discussed above as more than fortuitous and in a subsequent paper will conclude that HI profile shapes are aftected by the CIV phenomenon in interstellar space. This implies the existence of a previously unrecognized source of ionization that needs to be taken into account in the study of interstellar gasdynamics, physics, and chemistry.
Now, here is a table of the CIV’s for the universe’s most common elements, as verified in the laboratory, showing the bands for the lighter elements …
Now, look at what wikipedia says on the existence of CIV’s in space …
The phenomenon was predicted by Swedish engineer and plasma scientist, Hannes Alfvén, in connection with his model on the origin of the Solar System (1942).13 At the time, no known mechanism was available to explain the phenomenon, but the theory was subsequently demonstrated in the laboratory.4 Subsequent research by Brenning and Axnäs (1988)5 have suggested that a lower hybrid plasma instability is involved in transferring energy from the larger ions to electrons so that they have sufficient energy to ionize. Application of the theory to astronomy though a number of experiments have produced mixed results.
For a detailed explanation on how to read a radio astronomy paper, see chapters 5 and 6 of Gerrit Verschuur’s book, Interstellar Matters.
7. What are the high-velocity clouds (HVC’s), and why are they anomalous?
More filaments …
Still feel comfortable with assuming that redshift always necessarily means velocity?
Wikipedia uses the word “interactions” between galaxies to describe the HVC’s …
High-velocity clouds (HVCs) are large collections of gas found throughout the galactic halo of the Milky Way. Their bulk motions in the local standard of rest have velocities which are measured in excess of 70–90 km s−1. These clouds of gas can be massive in size, some on the order of millions of times the mass of the Sun, and cover large portions of the sky. They have been observed in the Milky Way’s halo and within other nearby galaxies.
HVCs are important to the understanding of Galactic evolution because they account for a large amount of baryonic matter in the Galactic halo. In addition, as these clouds fall into the disk of the Galaxy, they add material that can form stars in addition to the dilute star forming material already present in the disk. This new material aids in maintaining the star formation rate of the Galaxy. 1 The origins of the HVCs are still in question. No one theory explains all of the HVCs in the Galaxy. However, it is known that some HVCs are likely spawned by interactions between the Milky Way and satellite galaxies, such as the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds (LMC and SMC, respectively) which produce a well known HVC called the Magellanic Stream. Because of the various possible mechanisms that could potentially produce an HVC there are still many questions surrounding HVCs for researchers to study.
But, that explanation seems to leave some ambiguity about the reason why they are actually anomalous …
6.6. Anomalous Velocity Hydrogen
Not all is understood about the distribution of HI in the Milky Way. For example, large areas of sky are found to contain HI moving at velocities that are not expected if the gas is confined to the plane of the Galaxy. In particular, when a radio telescope is pointed above or below the galactic plane, only relatively local gas traveling at velocities between ±20 km/s with respect to zero, defined in terms of the average random motion of stars near the sun, should be observed. However, HI at very high negative velocities, which indicates motion toward us, is found at high galactic latitudes. These structures are known as high-velocity clouds, although detailed maps of such features show them to be filamentary instead of cloud-like. Their distance and origin continue to be the subject of controversy. The bulk of these HI structures in the northern sky follow an arc defined by a weak radio shell found in radio surveys such as the one shown in Figure 4.1, a shell believed to be part of an old supernova remnant at a distance of 450 light-years.
8. If filaments of plasma are transmitting electrical currents through interstellar space all around us, then shouldn’t that show up in some form within the CMB?
Yes, and it does – but only if you process the data by hand, and only if you are actually looking for it, since the analysis requires the combination of different data sets (WMAP & radio, for instance) created at different times by different observing machines. And the very reason we observe at this 21-cm frequency is because it permits us to see through dust particles, so we see all of the filaments in the line of sight on top of one another, in one image. There are plenty of opportunities for slight misalignments or even a failure to record the data, when automated algorithms are employed for searching for these correlations – as the WMAP group does. A number of articles and papers have been printed on this subject. Just a few …
High Galactic Latitude Interstellar Neutral Hydrogen Structure and Associated (WMAP) High-Frequency Continuum Emission
Interacting Galactic Neutral Hydrogen Filaments and Associated High-Frequency Continuum Emission
On the Critical Ionization Velocity Effect in Interstellar Space and Possible Detection of Related Continuum Emission
9. Okay, that’s all great, but what is it that is creating those stars along those filaments?
This turns out to be a critical question. Everybody knows what gravitational accretion is, but very few people – including professionally-trained astrophysicists – are familiar with the plasma-based process for collecting matter along these filaments. The filaments can be explained with laboratory science, using fundamental electrodynamics principles – and this explains not only why we see chemical separation within the interstellar medium, but it also explains why the centers of these filaments appear to be neutral:
Marklund convection (after Göran Marklund) is a natural plasma convection process that takes place in filamentary currents, that may cause chemical separation. It may occur within a plasma with an associated electric field, that causes convection of ions and electrons inward towards a central twisting filamentary axis. A temperature gradient within the plasma will also cause chemical separation based on different ionization potentials.1
The mechanism provides an efficient means to accumulate matter within a plasma 2. In a partially ionized plasma, electromagnetic forces act on the non-ionized material indirectly through the viscosity between the ionized and non-ionized material.
Alfvén writes that:
"… elements with the lowest ionization potential are brought closest to the axis, and form concentric hollow cylinders whose radii increase with ionization potential […] The drift of ionized matter from the surroundings into the rope means that the rope acts as an ion pump, which evacuates the surroundings. Regions with extremely low densities can be produced in this way ."3
In my paper in Nature the plasma convects radially inwards, with the normal E x B/B2 velocity, towards the center of a cylindrical flux tube. During this convection inwards, the different chemical constituents of the plasma, each having its specific ionization potential, enter into a progressively cooler region. The plasma constituents will recombine and become neutral, and thus no longer under the influence of the electromagnetic forcing. The ionization potentials will thus determine where the different species will be deposited, or stopped in their motion."4
A more thorough exploration is given in the much longer Essential Guide.
10. Fair enough, but if Marklund convection is observed in the laboratory, then wouldn’t astrophysicists already understand what it is?
They might know of it, but Marklund convection is really a laboratory plasma physics concept. It’s not thought to be happening in space, as it’s fundamentally an electrodynamic plasma concept. The universe would have to be fundamentally electrodynamic in order for that inference to apply to what we are seeing with our telescopes, and the Astrophysical Journal generally does not publish such papers. The truth is that, of those who made it to the end of this post, you probably now know more about this issue than many professional astrophysicists. We need to fix this. This is a debate that needs to happen more broadly. There are too many “coincidences” here.
In fact, one of the Electric Universe’s foremost critics has gone out of his way to explain to the world that astrophysicists do not generally read IEEE’s Transactions on Plasma Science, where we might expect laboratory concepts like Marklund convection would be discussed …
So, there’s not really any mystery here on question 10. The real problem is that most people will basically give up reading before they make it to the end. So, they would never learn that there are astrophysicists who refuse to read plasma physics journals, nor many of the other arguments. In fact, this investigation has largely escaped notice by most science reporters, and Gerrit Verschuur has spoken a bit about fearing the consequences of publishing on this topic.