E.R.A. Report 5275

Successful Predictions of the Electrical Discharge Theory of Cosmic Atmospheric Phenomena and Universal Evolution


C. E. R. Bruce

M.A., D.Sc. (Edin.) F.I.E.E., F.Inst.P. F.R.A.S.
(Research Physicist in The Electrical Research Association from 1924 to 1967)

The Electrical Research Association



(1) Introduction

(2) The Sun

  • (2.1) Solar Prominences
  • (2.2) Solar Atmospheric Electric Fields
  • (2.3) Solar Flares
    • (2.3.1) Crochets and Bal mor Line Widths
    • (2.3.2) Flare Energy
    • (2.3.3) Pressure in Flares
    • (2.3.4) Gas Jets and Magnetic Storms
    • (2.3.5) Thermal and Non-Thermal Sources
    • (2.3.6) Forbush Decreases
  • (2.4) Sunspots
    • (2.4.1) Explanation and Structure
    • (2.4.2.) The Evershed Effect
    • (2.4.3) Sunspot Magnetic Fields
  • (2.5) Solar Discharge Temperatures

(3) The Stars

  • (3.1) Extended Atmospheres
  • (3.2) Long Period Stars
    • (3.2.1) Electric Field Generation
    • (3.2.2) Veiling
    • (3.2.3) Epoch of Appearance of Emission Lines
    • (3.2.4) Periods
    • (3.2.5) Duration of Bright Line Spectra
    • (3.2.6) Variations of Period
    • (3.2.7) Variation of Spectrum with Epoch
    • (3.2.8) Change of Spectral Type
    • (3.2.9) Gas Velocities
    • (3.2.10) Gas Velocities in AX Persei
  • (3.3) Cometary Nebulae
  • (3.4) Gas Velocities in P Cygni and [chi] Cygni
  • (3.5) Planetary Nebulae
    • (3.5.1) Two-Armed Structures
    • (3.5.2) Gas Movements
    • (3.5.3) Feast's Data on Gas Velocities
    • (3.5.4) Zanstra's Stellar Temperature
  • (3.6) Stellar Rotation
    • (3.6.1) Dependence on Temperature
    • (3.6.2) Stars of Types B and Be
    • (3.6.3) Flare Stars
    • (3.6.4) Current Theories
  • (3.7) Low stellar atmospheric Density Gradients andl Apparent Loss of Matter ... 20
  • (3.8) g Cassiopeiae
    • (3.8.1) Rotating Four-Armed Nebula ...
    • (3.8.2) Variation of Emission Line Widths
    • (3.8.3) Relation Between Intensities and Velocities of the Emission Line Component
    • (3.8.4) Interchange of Line Components
  • (3.9) Novae
    • (3.9.1) Line Broadening in Initial Stages
    • (3.9.2) Current Wave Shape
    • (3.9.3) Pinching of the Discharge
    • (3.9.4) Two Discharges

(4) Galaxies

  • (4.1 ) Galactic Evolution
    • (4.1.1) Hubble's Scheme
    • (4.1.2) Type S0
    • (4,1.3) Type SBa
    • (4.1.4) Radio Galaxies
  • (4.2) Atmospheric Electric Field Building
    • (4.2.1) Existence of Grain
    • (4.2.2) Galactic Size - Type, Relation
    • (4.2.3) Argument Against Continuous Creation
  • (4.3) Discharge Channels
    • (4.3.1) Two-Armed Spirals
    • (4.3.2) Barred-Spirals
    • (4.3.3) Gas Jets in NGC 1097
    • (4.3.4) Irregular Galaxies
    • (4.3.5) Discharge Temperature
    • (4.3.6) Discharge Duration
    • (4.3.7) Magnetic Fields in the Arms
    • (4.3.8) Interacting Galaxies
  • (4.4) Stellar Populations
    • (4.4.1) Location
    • (4.4.2) Atomic Constitution
    • (4.4.3) Energy Radiated By a Radio Galaxy
  • (4.5) Optical. and Radio Sources
  • (4.6) Quasars
    • (4.6.1) Their Absence a Theoretical Difficulty
    • (4.6.2) Optical Characteristics
    • (4.6.3) Duration
    • (4.6.4) Pinching of the Discharge
    • (4.6.5) Association with Dust
  • (4.7) Two Populations of Galaxies?
List of References


The object is to show that all cosmic atmospheric phenomena can be explained as deriving from electrical discharges, resulting from the breakdown of electric fields generated by the asymmetrical impacts between dust particles, such as are effective in terrestrial electrical sand and dust storms and in thunderstorms. These electrical discharges form, for example, the solar photosphere at 6,000K, superposed on an atmospheric background temperature of less than 4,000K at which solids can and do form. Isolated discharges form the solar prominences and solar flares. The electrical discharge theory of the latter led to the prediction (1959) that they must emit X-rays before these were observed by the first U.S.N. satellite observations in 1960 and observations of the transverse magnetic fields surrounding two flares in 1966 by Severny have confirmed that the flares are, in fact, electrical discharges. Despite over 50 years of observations of longitudinal magnetic fields in the umbra of sunspots and of gas velocities limited to around 2 km per second in the Evershed effect, Severny confirmed that the former are actually transverse and Bumba confirmed that the latter reach 8 km per second, each in accordance with the theory's predictions.

The theory led to the view that, much of what has been regarded as due to stellar rotation is not due to the rotation of the star, as is now generally agreed, but to rotation of balls of gas emitted from discharges and this in turn led to a new theory of ball lightning which seems to explain all the observations. It also explains the photographs of barred spiral nebulae and of flashovers of insulator strings, in which the same escape of gas occurs at the sudden bends in the discharges at the ends of the bars and at the bends in the crinkled discharges over insulator strings in the laboratory.

The theory explains the origin of the cosmic atmospheric magnetic fields and relativistic electrons which have to be postulated by all other theories of radio galaxies; also of the gas jets which explain solar magnetic storms and the movements observed in the planetary nebulae, novae, and many extra-galactic nebulae. These discharge-generated gas jets derive from the same claracteristic of electrical discharges which renders arc welding possible.

The theory led to the value of 1060 ergs for the total energy liberated by a radio galaxy before this value was confirmed by Heeschen's study of all the available data. It explains the separation of the stars in a galaxy into two Stellar Populations and the observed differences in their average atomic constitutions and the two-armed structure of both stellar (planetary) and extra-galactic nebulae.

The introduction of atmospheric electric fields would appear to do for cosmic atmospheric astrophysics what the introduction of gravitation did for dynamical astronomy.

(1) Introduction

A few years ago in a lecture to the British Association(1) Bondi emphasized the desirability that a theory should "live dangerously" by making predictions which could be verified by observation or experiment. The study of terrestrial lightning may be said to have been initiated by one of the tersest examples of this procedure when Benjamin Franklin ended his entry in his "minutes" on the lightning flash with "Let the experiment be made", and the Philadelphia experiment, as it was called in Europe, was successfully made, first by d'Alibard in France in 1752 and later by Franklin himself.

Unfortunately in proposing a step of even greater ratio in the extension of the field of electrical discharges in gases to cosmic atmospheres the writer has seldom been able to put his predictions in such a direct relation to possible experiments. What he has been able to do frequently is to suggest that the available observations, or even, and often, those not already available, should be studied from the point of view of their having originated in electrical discharges. Few theories can have lived more dangerously in this way and survived than has the electric field and discharge theory of cosmic atmospheric phenomena and universal evolution. It predicted(2.1), for example, the existence of two-armed nebulae on a stellar, as well as a galactic scale, when no one seemed able to confirm the existence of such a nebular structure -- not even theose who had worked for many years on planetary nebulae. It predictcd(2.2) the existence of temperatures of over 100,000,000K in electrica1 discharges in the solar atmosphere -- soon verified(2.3) by U.S.N. satellite observations; of velocities of up to 8 km/sec in the Evershed Effect(2.4) despite over 50 years of observations limited to 1 to 2 km/s. Perhaps; the most remarkable success of all was the deduction that the magnetic fields in the umbra of sunspots must be transverse(2.5) despite the fifty years of observations at Mount Wilson Observatory and elsewhere purporting to show that they are not transverse but vertical. All the evidence would thus seem to indicate that these last predictions are incorrect in view of the accounts of sunspots and the Evershed Effect given in every text book on astronomy during the last fifty years or so. But possibly even more striking was the prediction of the existence and approximate duration(2.6) of what have since been discovered and called quasars, at least, four years before their discovery.

These and. many other successful predictions of the theory are described in the present account. As each contributes to the significance of its fellows, it seemed desirable to collect them together with those not already discussed. This has been done under the heads of solar, stellar and galactic phenomena. It might have been more logical to have collected them under such headings as electric field building, discharge characteristics, discharge-generated gas jets, thermal and non-thermal cosmic energy sources, etc., but the present arrangement will probably appeal more to those who specialize in solar, stellar or galactic phenomena.

(2) The Sun

(3) the Stars

(4) Galaxies

List of References