Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Why Won't They Accept the Correct Answers?

Nebula's Mysterious Halo Stumps Astronomers

A NEW image of a little-known nebula taken from the Hubble Space Telescope has astronomers wondering what's lighting it up.

NASA has released an image of IRAS 05437+2502, or "Ira's Ghost", after it was snapped by Hubble as a "bonus target" – part of a list of things for Hubble to do when it's got spare time.

Ira's Ghost was first discovered in 1983 and sits within our own galaxy in the constellation Taurus. It's known as a "reflection nebula" – a cloud of gas lit up by a light source – as opposed to an "emission nebula" which is lit up from within.

What makes this nebula unusual, apart from the fact it's both stunning and spooky, is there's so far no evidence of a light source.

Nebula's Mysterious Halo Stumps Astronomers

Particularly one of the magnitude that has lit up the tip of one of its highest clouds with a blazing, boomerang-shaped halo.

The best explanation scientists have come up with so far is that Ira's Ghost was once visited by a high-velocity star spat out by its cluster and passing through at 200,000km/h.

However, given it's a "bonus target", they're not going to spend a lot of time worrying about it.

For now, it's just another spectacular, mysterious flashpoint in the universe for us to wonder about.


It’s called a “reflection nebula,” in which “dusty gas scatters the light from nearby, Trifid-born stars.” This explanation was reasonable, or at least familiar, when reflection was the only mechanism known for producing polarized light that had a spectrum similar to nearby stars. Later, the invention of the synchrotron contributed another possibility: blue polarized emissions of field-aligned electric currents twisting along magnetic fields.

The dark filaments that divide the nebula into thirds, hence giving it its name, Trifid, are called “gases and dust.” They will “collapse and form new stars” due to “gravity’s inexorable attraction.” This twinkle of explanation is entirely pretense. It’s contradicted not only by observations but also by traditional theory itself: Clouds of gas can collapse only if they have no angular momentum and no magnetism. However, for “some unknown reason,” all such clouds do have angular momentum and magnetism, usually a lot. As one astronomer has commented, “Astronomy has a spin problem.”

This is not a problem when the electrical properties of plasma are recognized: Birkeland currents generate spin, and the z-pinch effect is efficient at coalescing matter into filaments, disks, and dense spherules. One plasma physicist has called Birkeland currents the “vacuum cleaners of space.”

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