Energizing the Filaments of NGC 1275

May 11, 2011 By Jon Voisey, Universe Today
NGC 1275 as captured by the Hubble Space Telescope

When examining clusters of galaxies, astronomers often find massive elliptical galaxies lurking at the centers. In some of these, long filaments of gas and dust extend outwards from the core. One of the best examples of this is the relatively nearby galaxy NGC 1275 which lies in the constellation of Perseus. In this galaxy these tendrils are exceptionally narrow, only about 200 light years across, but as long as 20,000 light years in length. While many groups have studied them, their nature is a topic of much debate. The structures tend to be far removed from star forming regions which can cause the gas to glow. So what energy source powers these gaseous ribbons?

Answering this question is the goal of a recent paper by a team of astronomers led by Andrew Fabian at Cambridge University. Previous studies have explored the of these . Although the filaments have strong Hα emission, created by warm hydrogen gas, the spectra of these tendrils are unlike any nebulae within our own galaxy. The closest resemblance to galactic objects was the Crab Nebula, the remnant of a supernova that was witnessed in 1054 AD. Additionally, the spectra also reveal the presence of molecules such as carbon monoxide and H2.

Another, previous challenge astronomers faced with these tendrils was explaining their formation. Since molecules were present, it meant the gas was cooler than the surrounding gas. In this case, the clouds should collapse due to their self gravity to form more stars than are actually present. But surrounding these tendrils is ionized plasma which should interact with the cold gas, heating it and causing it to disperse. While these two forces would counteract one another, it is impossible to consider that they would balance each other perfectly in one case, let alone for the numerous tendrils in numerous central galaxies.

This problem was apparently solved in 2008, when Fabian published a paper in Nature suggesting that these filaments were being columnated by extremely weak magnetic fields (only 0.01% the strength of Earth’s). These field lines could prevent the warmer plasma from directly entering the cold filaments since, upon interaction with the magnetic field, they would be redirected. But could this property help to explain the lesser degree of heating that still causes the emission spectra? Fabian’s team thinks so.

In the new paper, they suggests that some of the particles of the surrounding plasma do eventually penetrate the cold tendrils which explains some of the heating. However, this flow of charged particles also effects the field lines themselves inducing turbulence which also heats the gas. These effects make up the main bulk of the observed spectra. But the tendrils also exhibit an anomalous amount of X-ray flux. The team proposes that some of this is due to charge exchange in which the ionized gas entering the filaments steals electrons from the cold gas. Unfortunately, the interactions are expected to be too infrequent to explain all of the observed X-rays leaving this portion of the spectrum not fully explained by the new model.

-------------------

In this article I’ve used the words “magnetic field”, “charge”, and “plasma” throughout, so of course the Electric Universe crowd is going to come flocking, declaring this validates everything they’ve ever said, just as they did when magnetic fields were first implicated in 2008. So before closing completely, I want to take a bit to consider how this new study conforms to their predictions. In general, the study agrees with their claims. However, that doesn’t mean their claims are correct. Rather, it implies they’re worthlessly vague and can be made to fit any circumstance that even briefly mentions such words as I listed above.

The EU supporters consistently refuse to provide any quantitative models which could provide true discriminating tests for their propositions. Instead, they leave the claims suspiciously vague and insist that complex physics is completely understandable with no more understanding than high school level E&M. As a result, the mere scale of their claims is horrifically inconsistent wherein they propose things like the paltry field in this article, or the slight charge on lunar craters are indicative of overwhelming currents powering stars and entire .

So while articles like this one do reinforce the EU position that electromagnetics does play a role in astronomy, it does not support the grandiose claims on entirely different scales. In the meantime, astronomers don’t argue that electromagnetic effects don’t exist (like EU supporters frequently claim). Rather, we analyze them and appreciate them for what they are: Generally weak effects that are important here and there, but they’re not some all powerful energy field pervading the universe.

Explore further: Fermi finds a 'transformer' pulsar

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Examining the Great Wall

May 10, 2011

Structure exists on nearly all scales in the universe. Matter clumps under its own gravity into planets, stars, galaxies, clusters, and superclusters. Beyond even these in scale are the filaments and voids. ...

Magnetic fields on O-Class stars

Dec 20, 2010

The primary method by which astronomers can measure magnetic field strength on stars is the Zeeman effect. This effect is the splitting of spectral lines into two due to the magnetic field's effect on the ...

Giant galaxies akin to snowflakes in space

Feb 21, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Giant galaxies that contain billions of stars are born in much the same way as delicate snowflakes, new research from Swinburne University of Technology has shown.

Cosmic magnetic fields

May 02, 2011

The mention of cosmic-scale magnetic fields is still likely to met with an uncomfortable silence in some astronomical circles – and after a bit of foot-shuffling and throat-clearing, the discussion will ...

Recommended for you

Fermi finds a 'transformer' pulsar

8 hours ago

(Phys.org) —In late June 2013, an exceptional binary containing a rapidly spinning neutron star underwent a dramatic change in behavior never before observed. The pulsar's radio beacon vanished, while at ...

Transiting exoplanet with longest known year

Jul 21, 2014

Astronomers have discovered a transiting exoplanet with the longest known year. Kepler-421b circles its star once every 704 days. In comparison, Mars orbits our Sun once every 780 days. Most of the 1,800-plus ...

User comments : 17

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

omatumr
1 / 5 (6) May 11, 2011
If allowed to do so, I suggest that readers consider the possibility that neutron repulsion is currently causing massive, neutron-rich objects to fragment and that this expansion of the universe will reverse itself when the compact, neutron-rich objects are depleted so that gravitational forces of attraction cause the universe to contract in the reverse phase of our cyclic universe [1].

1. "Is the Universe Expanding?"
The Journal of Cosmology 13, 4187-4190 (2011).
http://journalofc...102.html

With kind regards,
Oliver K. Manuel
HannesAlfven
2.3 / 5 (12) May 11, 2011
Re: "The EU supporters consistently refuse to provide any quantitative models which could provide true discriminating tests for their propositions. Instead, they leave the claims suspiciously vague and insist that complex physics is completely understandable with no more understanding than high school level E&M."

This is a misrepresentation of the debate. Plasma physics is NOT taught in high school, and Hannes Alfven has made it clear that laboratory plasmas often violate the beautiful models which we have for them.

To the extent that conventional physicists complain about a lack of quantitative models in the EU, the EU makes similarly strong arguments for a lack of philosophical approach within the conventional theories. This is a legitimate debate about the nature of electricity in space, which historically speaking, humans have repeatedly assumed is confined within a box. The size of this box has, over time, grown out of necessity, based upon observations.
HannesAlfven
2.1 / 5 (11) May 11, 2011
To be clear, there will come a day when EU proponents create their own curriculum, based upon their own interpretations of observations and experimentation. Once this occurs -- and it is absolutely inevitable -- these quantitative models will be refined.

They actually already exist, but conventional physicists do not seek them out, and so imagine that there is nothing to work with out there already.

But, once these models are refined, this talking point will become moot. So, are you guys arguing that we should not refine these models, to begin with?

But, I will also point out the risk that conventional physicists take on by taking a side in the debate. None of the individual physicists who stake claims against the EU will have to suffer any consequences for this. It is the university system itself which will ultimately suffer if you are wrong. The public will stop paying you money to attend your schools if you turn out to be wrong on this.

It's an unnecessary risk ...
frajo
3 / 5 (4) May 11, 2011
The paragraph dealing with the "EU crowd" is brilliantly demonstrating the striking difference between unpretentious clear science and pretentiously vague speculation.
omatumr
1 / 5 (6) May 11, 2011
So while articles like this one do reinforce the EU position that electromagnetics does play a role in astronomy . . .


1. Electromagnetics is involved in producing nuclei via the CNO cycle at the solar surface [1].

2. Magnetic fields that protrude through the glowing ball of waste products in the photosphere probably arise from the neutron-rich core or the iron-rich mantle that surrounds the neutron star [2,3].

1. "Observational confirmation of the Sun's CNO cycle," Journal of Fusion Energy 25, 141-144 (2006)].

http://xxx.lanl.g.../0512633

2. "Super-fluidity in the solar interior: Implications for solar eruptions and climate", Journal of Fusion Energy 21, 193-198 (2002)

http://arxiv.org/.../0501441

3. "Neutron Repulsion", The APEIRON Journal, in press, 19 pages (2011)

http://arxiv.org/...2.1499v1
davesmith_au
3 / 5 (4) May 12, 2011
And as the writer of that story, Jon Voisey, not only attacks EU but links to a blog (Dealing with Creationism in Astronomy) which attacks me directly, please allow me the right of reply. I wrote a response to Bridgman's rhetoric:

http://thunderbol...ptic.htm
lengould100
not rated yet May 12, 2011
Things are getting wierder....
Shelgeyr
1.7 / 5 (6) May 12, 2011
Wow, Jon, tell us how you really feel!
In general, the study agrees with their claims. However, that doesnt mean their claims are correct. Rather, it implies theyre worthlessly vague and can be made to fit any circumstance that even briefly mentions such words as I listed above.

On the other hand, it could mean their claims are correct, and instead of being "worthlessly vague", it might imply that you don't understand their underlying arguments.

A magnetic field requires an electric current, at all times, everywhere. Not just at an origin. But hey, don't take my word for it:

". . .all magnetic fields encountered in nature are generated by circulating currents." (from "Origin of Permanent Magnetism", http://farside.ph...77.html)

-With a great big hat tip and many thanks to "DustyDevil"
HannesAlfven
2 / 5 (8) May 12, 2011
Abstraction is the pulling apart of observations and experiments to formulate scientific models which allow us to solve specific problems in physics.

Synthesis is the bringing together of ideas from differing topics -- a breaking down of the walls which distinguish the disciplines.

To be clear, abstraction is necessary to build things. But, when solving the greatest problems man has ever contemplated, we need synthesis. You cannot create your "Theory of Everything" purely through abstraction! There absolutely must be a synthesis component as well.

When looking at outsiders' novel attempts at explaining the universe, conventional physicists oftentimes don't recognize synthesis for what it is. Since it involves language rather than mathematics, they perceive it to be inferior. But, at the start of every successful venture in science or technology is a set of ideas -- not mathematics.

Today, our educational institutions teach a LOT of abstraction and way too little synthesis.
HannesAlfven
1.9 / 5 (9) May 12, 2011
If you look deep into the archives of the Electric Universe and even way back to Velikovsky, you will find the word "Interdisciplinary" firmly attached to the EU approach. Yes, on occasion, these predictions -- like by Velikovsky, in particular -- were so vague as to always be true (radio waves from Jupiter, etc.). This, however, fails to be a commentary on the interdisciplinary methodology. The simple fact is that the ideas MUST come first, and they MUST be guided by both philosophy and history of science.

Now, when somebody comments that the model is not quantitative. This is a commentary on the STATE of the model -- not on the approach itself. The EU side is left wondering: Are they arguing that we should not refine the model? Or, that we CANNOT?

Clearly, dark matter and dark energy play vital roles in the conventional models. There should be little doubt that the EU can create a superior competing model which lacks these mathematical fudge factors.
Shelgeyr
1.8 / 5 (5) May 12, 2011
It looks like the board software thought my closing parenthesis was part of the link I posted, thus rendering it non-working. Sorry about that!

Here's the same link: http://farside.ph...e77.html

Or, of course, if you've opened a page from the prior link, just knock off the final character and it should work fine.

I'll be more careful next time!
HannesAlfven
1.9 / 5 (9) May 12, 2011
Moving forward, this debate will ultimately not be settled on forums or comment boards, which are ultimately subject to psychological and social forces which distort our attempts to understand nature. It will be settled in the laboratories of the world, after students have been properly trained in a new synthesis-based curriculum. Either this new scientific framework can be made to be predictive and transformed into new technologies, or it cannot.

It will thrive or die on its own, without the need for conventional thinkers to censor or even criticize it. To presuppose the outcome of the debate -- a debate which was partially begun with Nobel laureate, Hannes Alfven more than 50 years ago -- is to abandon a philosophical approach where human bias and prejudice play no role in our scientific dialogue.

Censorship implies fear. If the EU proponents are right, then what are people afraid of? It is humans afraid that their beliefs and knowledge are wrong.
omatumr
1 / 5 (5) May 13, 2011
A magnetic field requires an electric current, at all times, everywhere. Not just at an origin. But hey, don't take my word for it:

". . .all magnetic fields encountered in nature are generated by circulating currents." (from "Origin of Permanent Magnetism",

http://farside.ph...77.html)


Are you saying that electric currents explain the magnetic fields of neutron stars made of the most fundamental particle, the particle that spontaneously gives birth to the electron, the . . .

NEUTRON => proton + electron + 0.782 MeV ??

Or do + and - electrical charges arise from the above process?

Or is the above process cyclic and reversible?

See: "Is the Universe Expanding?", The
Journal of Cosmology 13, 4187-4190 (2011)

http://journalofc...102.html
Shelgeyr
1.6 / 5 (7) May 16, 2011
Are you saying that electric currents explain the magnetic fields of neutron stars...


Not exactly. I'm saying that the only thing that can create a magnetic field is an electric current (a movement of charge). I didn't say anything about neutron stars.

But since you brought it up, I'll tell you something I don't expect you to EVER believe, and for once (and I mean no disrespect when I say this) you'll be in agreement with most posters on this board. Nevertheless, here we go! (sigh)

Despite all the hype, despite all the claims to the contrary, there are no such things as "neutron stars". They are fudge factors created to explain that which astronomers can't otherwise define. They don't exist. I'm not saying the data is flawed (at least not all of it), I'm saying the interpretations are. But omatumr, since I know your entire local solar cosmology is based on neutron stars, and that you have years invested in your theories, I don't expect you to agree.
Tuxford
1 / 5 (5) Jul 03, 2011
The summary points out that giant ellipticals are often found near the center of clusters, some having these long tendrils of gas filaments therefrom into the surrounding space. This is further support that giant ellipticals can seed the formation of galaxy clusters, ejecting newly nucleated matter from it's supermassive core at an ever increasing rate. This new gas eventually condenses to form other galaxies, so that clusters, in many cases, can grow from within rather than from without.
rjhuntington
2.3 / 5 (3) Jul 10, 2011
hahaha, it's so very amusing to watch science partisans defend cherished theories as if the more fervent they are in their defenses the more secure their theory is. That's just like the partisan religion people! Same sort of behavior.

A scientific theory is either correct or it is not correct. Experimentation and observation (not by math alone) determines the truth or falsehood of a theory, not abstract argument or emotional passion.

Anyone who refuses to allow for the falsification of their favorite theory by experimentation and observation is a religious adherent not a scientist.
rjhuntington
2 / 5 (4) Jul 10, 2011
"Neutron Stars" hahaha
"Dark Matter" lol
"Black Holes" hysterical
"Dark Energy" ooooo scary

Big-Bang Band-aids on parade, like a cadre of over-the-top villains in a 'B' Sci-Fi flick, and just as funny. Sorry, boys, that's how I see it. I was a believer, too, for a while. I wanted to believe, but BBT just made no sense without the constant creation of ever-more-complicated and imaginative fixes. At what point would a BBT adherent throw in the towel and say the theory has been falsified? Just asking, but it is a reasonable question for a scientist to be asked.

You can give me a 1, that's ok. I know you have a hard time accepting the truth. I forgive you. Don't wait too long to come around, though. I only gets more painful the longer you try to hold out against the truth. Who wants to be the last one to hold onto a failed cosmological theory? Epicycle Stew, anyone?

Again, just asking.