Glowing In The Plasma
The Electrical Interpretation of Comets
The conventional model of comets sees them as loosely aggregated "dirty snowballs" of primordial matter
left over from the formation of the Solar System, scattered as a cloud about its distant environs like debris around a
construction site before the cleaning up. Supposedly, occasional disturbances, for example by a close-passing star, would
perturb some of them toward the Sun on paths that became eccentric orbits. At the inner extremes of these orbits--as the
comet approaches and passes around the Sun--the Sun's heat causes sublimation of the ice and release of trapped dust and
gases, which shine in reflected sunlight as an extended "coma" surrounding the nucleus, and the pressure of radiation and the solar wind shape into an enormous tail directed away from the Sun. However, several space missions despatched to
test the model have returned results so much at odds with the standard theory as to leave proponents somewhat disarrayed,
with some admitting that they are going to have to rethink just about everything they thought they knew.
The standard model has always had difficulties that many have found make it far from satisfactory. But if one is committed
a-priori to the doctrine of everything in the Solar System being formed together by accretion from a contracting cloud of dust and gas billions of years ago, it's
really the only game in town. How, for example, does a tiny nucleus measuring typically a few kilometers across manage to
hold together and entrain a coma that can be millions of kilometers long, and beyond that a tail that exhibits a structure of filaments and
Comet West, 1976
If comas form from expanding gases and dust released by the Sun's heat, why are they seen in the outer reaches of the
Solar System where the Sun's influence is negligible, as happened when Comet Halley was observed to flare up spectacularly in
1991 between the orbits of Saturn and Uranus, or Comet Holmes 17P in 2007, which underwent a millionfold increase in
brightneess when it was heading away from the Sun? Even more astonishing, how does a glowing coma sometimes manage to emit X-rays as intense as those measured coming from the Sun, as Comet Hyakutake did in 1996? And then at the other extreme, if the nuclei are rubble held together by
ice, how do they remain intact through the heat encountered in the close passes made by the class of comets known as "sungrazers"?
And if comets are cold, dead objects enlivened only by surface action of the Sun, how can they release material as energetic
jets reaching over huge distances and undergo explosive fragmentation?
Answers to all these questions have been proposed, but always after the event, never predictively, becoming more strained and farfetched,
with a feel about them of desperation to defend a prevailing paradigm whose core assumptions can't be questioned. However,
recent findings from actual close-up comet encounters seem to show conclusively that the theory is beyond rescue.
In January 1994, NASA's "Stardust" space probe swooped close to the nucleus of Comet Wild 2 and captured particles from
its dusty vicinity, which in a triumph of precise navigation and space engineering were safely returned in a capsule
parachuted down onto the Utah desert in January 2006. However, the quality of the engineering wasn't matched by the
predictions of the science. The theorists had expected to find a "Rosetta Stone" of primordial material accreted in the cold
depths of space that would help decipher the story of the Solar System's origins. But analysis revealed the presence of
minerals that require temperatures of thousands of degrees to form, of kinds commonly found in meteorites. Products of
extreme heat and extreme cold seemingly coexisted. Speculations followed of material formed close to the early Sun being
expelled by energetic solar jets to distances far beyond Pluto's present distance, or arriving from other stars to be
incorporated into primeval comets. But they were contrived to save the theory. Nothing of the sort had been proposed
The most spectacular mission encounter came in July 2005, when NASA's Deep Impact probe launched an 820lb projectile at
Comet Tempel 1 that struck with energy equivalent to 4.8 tons of TNT--comparable to a fair-size bomb. Once again the
expectations of the standard model were confounded. The presumed composition of fluffy ice led to predictions of a crater the size of a football field and seven stories deep, revealing primordial ice and ejecting a large volume of subsurface material that would include water. Much of the energy was
expected to be absorbed in compression, giving rise to warnings that little might be observed in the way of an impact flash or
surface heating. In fact there was not only a spectacular flash but two, one shortly before the impact, followed by an
immense blast of radiance and fine dust that temporarily blinded the instrument sensors, with the result that details of the
actual impact and its exact location were obscured.
Instead of a deep crater in loosely consolidated ice and dust, the signs afterward pointed to at least two new ejecta
centers, far shallower than anticipated, in what looked more like solid rock. The flash prior to impact came as a complete
surprise to the investigators, since nothing in the standard model provides a mechanism for it. The ejecta were collimated
into distinct jets that preserved their form over large distance, not at all reconcilable with neutral gas dispersing into a
vacuum. The expected release of subsurface ice water didn't happen. From images returned by the probe and impactor, the
nucleus was seen to be dry, sculpted into sharply defined craters, ridges, mesas, and spires--nothing like an ice ball
softening and melting and losing definition as it nears the Sun.
The highest-resolution pictures from the impactor show spots of white-out occurring preferentially along sharper features of
the terrain, such as crater rims and the crests of cliffs rising above valley floors. Subsequently, the coma was seen to
brighten throughout at a speed that couldn't be explained by the transport of ejecta material from the impact, eventually
reaching eleven times its original brightness.
When a body of scientific theory finds itself subject increasingly to post-hoc improvisations to make it fit new
observations, it's usually a sign that the time has come for the underlying assumptions be questioned and an alternative
sought that explains the facts more easily and naturally. The classic example is the Ptolemean geocentric system of astronomy, in
which, with a bit of ingenuity and creativity, it was always possible to contrive more complex combinations of epicycles to
accommodate the latest data. As a consequence the traditional view continued to dominate Western thought long after it should
have been retired.
In the case of the various comet-related conundrums, an alternative that presents itself is the rapidly emerging Electric Universe paradigm, which recognizes the crucial role of electricity and
assigns it the primary role above gravity--the weakest force known to physics--in shaping and energizing the cosmos. Electric
and magnetic forces provide a far more powerful and effective means than gravity for collecting together, compressing, and
heating dispersed matter to form stars. Many examples exist across the galaxy of events that can be interpreted as precisely
this process taking place now, that require no invoking of abstract, exotic physics, but are readily explained in terms
familiar to any plasma researcher or electrical engineer.
According to the electrical model, systems of stars, planets, and other bodies are not gravitational condensations from an accretion disk, but formed in a
hierarchical progression of fission events from hot, highly-electrically-stressed stars down through gas giants, rocky
planets, and moons. Space is not the idealized vacuum that was once assumed, but a plasma containing charged particles that
conduct current and respond to electromagnetism. In the Solar System that we see today, orbits have spaced themselves out
and stabilized to a regular, non-interfering pattern in which the isolating sheaths that form around charged bodies immersed
in a plasma shield them from electrical forces and leave them subject to the influence of gravity alone. This is why Newton's
law suffices to describe what happens in our own locality at the present time. But the earlier phases of fission breakdown
and ejection were unstable and violent, with the resulting objects moving erratically, sometimes coming into close proximity
and experiencing colossal electrical discharges between each other that carved surfaces into forms of sharp relief still
visible today, and blasted debris away into space. This is where comets, asteroids, meteors, and other minor bodies came
The only essential difference between a comet and an asteroid is the eccentricity of its orbit. Whereas traditional theory
saw them as completely different in nature and origins, recent findings show that comet nuclei look just like asteroids, and
asteroids can sometimes grow tails like comets. The reason the orbit makes a difference is that the Sun carries a positive
charge relative to the rest of the Solar System, and hence creates a radial electric field manifesting itself as an
electrical potential (voltage) that diminishes with distance. An object at a constant distance from the Sun will exchange
charge with the plasma until their potentials are equalized. In the case of a comet, however, the potential that it has
acquired in the course of moving slowly through the outer parts of its orbit far from the Sun can't adjust rapidly enough to
maintain equality as the comet speeds up on its plunge inward. The result is an increasing electrical stress due to the
difference in potential with the surroundings, giving rise to an intensifying electrical discharge with all the familiar
Cometary comas are lit up by glow discharge where the comet's plasma sheath interacts with the local electrical environment of the Sun, not sunlight reflecting off dust and gas--which wouldn't even be there at distances where the spectacle is sometimes at its brightest. The enormous tails are shaped and held together by electrical forces, not the gravity of a minuscule nucleus or waning radiation pressure from the distant Sun, which would cause them to disperse like smoke in the wind if they were simply neutral particles. This is also why they exhibit filamentary structures and can change their illumination faster than could be effected by any propagating material. The impact on Tempel 1 was more energetic than standard theory expected because electrical discharge from the projectile occurred in additon to the release of impact energy--once on penetrating the comet's plasma sheath and again at the surface of the nucleus, which accounts for the double flash. Electrical stresses of the kind
that can cause heavy industrial equipment to explode create the jets of matter seen streaming away into space from comet nuclei
(compare with the "volcanoes" of Jupiter's moon Io), and the deep-penetrating forces capable of blowing mountain-size
objects apart where any heating from the Sun wouldn't extend deeper than a few inches.
When discharges become strong enough
they switch from glow mode (fluorescent tubes; polar auroras) to arc mode (electric welding; lightning), producing the
"anomalous" white spots of brilliance and temperatures that rival the Sun, sometimes accompanied by X-rays. Arc discharges
are easily able to manufacture exotic high-temperature minerals just where they are found; and the forms typically produced
by electric arc machining closely resemble the surface features of cometary nuclei.
Top: Micrograph of a surface machined by electrical discharge
Lower: The surface of Comet Wild 2
For more detailed accounts of the examples touched on above, two good starting points would be the "Search" facilities on the
Thunderbolts site at http://www.thunderbolts.info/home.htm and Wallace Thornhill's
Holoscience at http://www.holoscience.com/. These will also provide a grounding
in other aspects of the Electrical Universe model, along with pointers to many other sources.