- PHOTO CAPTION: Worldwide telescopic observations
continue to record the catastrophic dissolution of Comet Schwassman-Wachmann
3, offering critical tests of both the standard model and its alternative,
the electric comet. Above, two views of the disintegrating comet Schwassmann-Wachmann
3 taken by the Hubble Space Telescope
- Modern instruments are finding secrets
of comets that throw accepted theory into turmoil. The appearance of each
comet is followed by the appearance of new, often contradictory, models.
And rather than help to reconcile the competing and mutually contradictory
models, each new discovery seems only to add to the gap between prior theory
and actual findings.
- Any theory seeking to explain comet behavior
must account for the defining attributes of comets. And one peculiarity
now on the minds of cometologists is the unpredictable fragmentation of
comets, often at distances from the Sun that eliminate the appeal to solar
heating or to gravitational stresses on the comet. In fact, eighty percent
of comets that split do so when they are far from the Sun, according to
Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan, authors of the book Comet. Thus the authors
conceded, "the problem remains unsolved".
- Why has Schwassmann-Wachmann 3 fragmented
so rapidly in its most recent approach? We know that in its passage in
1995 it broke into at least three fragments. But now "an amazing process
of hierarchical destruction is taking place, in which the larger fragments
are continuing to break up into smaller chunks". See ESA movie of
the breakup here-- http://www.spacetelescope.org/videos/html/mov/320px/heic0605b.html
- Given the surge of attention on the comet,
more information will surely be forthcoming in the weeks ahead as observatories
begin to announce their findings. But even now the predictions of the electric
model contrast so sharply with those of the standard model that we are
confident in registering these preliminary observations and predictions--
- The most noticeable thing is that the
comet fragments do not "light up" until they are a considerable
distance from the comet nucleus. This is contrary to the argument that
the cometary display is due to exposed ices sublimating in sunlight. We
should then expect that the fragments would expose fresh ices and appear
bright from the moment they leave the nucleus. In contrast, the electrical
model expects the fragments to be at the same voltage as the parent nucleus,
so that they will not begin to discharge and form their own cometary display
until they leave the immediate electrical influence of the parent. In addition,
the brightness of each fragment will vary as it moves in and out of the
current filaments from the parent comet and other fragments. And it will
fade as the charge on the fragment is dissipated.
- At the heart of comet theory is the astronomers'
unsubstantiated claim that cometary displays are largely a result of water
evaporation. In contrast, electrical theorist Wal Thornhill and his colleagues
have repeatedly predicted that the required water levels in the nucleus
will not be found. See summaries here: http://www.thunderbolts.info/tpod/2006/arch06/060214comet.htm
- and here: http://www.thunderbolts.info/tpod/2006/arch06/060216deepimpact2.htm
- The electrical theorists suggest that
facts already in hand virtually preclude abundant ices on the nuclei of
- But when astronomers view the comas of
comets spectroscopically, their own preconceptions deceive them. They are
not seeing water. (If it were there, it would not be visible). What they
actually see is the hydroxyl radical (OH), which they assume to be a residue
of water (H2O) as it is broken down by the ultraviolet light of the Sun.
This assumption is not only unwarranted, it requires a speed of "processing"
by solar radiation beyond anything that can be demonstrated experimentally.
- The explanation for the OH in cometary
comas will be found in the energetic exchange between the electrically
charged comet and the oppositely charged solar wind. The point was stated
in an earlier Picture of the Day: "In the electric model, negative
oxygen ions will be accelerated away from the comet in energetic jets,
then combine preferentially with protons from the solar wind to form the
observed OH radical and the neutral hydrogen gathered around the coma in
vast concentric bubbles. The reactions simply confirm the energetic charge
exchange between the nucleus and Sun." See-- http://thunderbolts.info/tpod/2006/arch06/060217deepimpact3.htm
- The fragmentation of comet nuclei provides
a telling opportunity to see if the ices that standard theory expects are
actually there. But the time to look is in the early stages of an explosive
outburst, before charge exchange with the Sun deceives astronomers. The
electric model would anticipate that, with each outburst, observatories
may record a decline in the relative abundance of water, before they report
an increase in water (their interpretation, due to the presence of OH).
As recent missions to comets have shown, water is consistently missing
from the nuclei of comets but supposedly present in the comas. If the OH
is, in fact, being manufactured through reactions with the solar wind,
the contradictions are resolved.
- Due to the electric force acting on the
comet fragments their behavior should be carefully observed for gravity-defying
accelerations. Factors that need to be taken into account include the speed
of separation as new fragments move apart, and the collective gathering
of these masses in the general direction of the tail -- all in blatant
disregard for the rules of gravity.
- Here is the "explanation" given
on the Hubble site:
- "Sequential Hubble images of the
B fragment, taken a few days apart, suggest that the chunks are pushed
down the tail by outgassing from the icy, sunward-facing surfaces of the
chunks, much like space-walking astronauts are propelled by their jetpacks.
The smaller chunks have the lowest mass, and so are accelerated away from
the parent nucleus faster than the larger chunks. Some of the chunks seem
to dissipate completely over the course of several days".
- But there is no factual basis for comparing
a comet's "jets" to the "jetpacks" of astronauts. In
fact, the Hubble statement suggests an obvious experiment that would quickly
disabuse astronomers of their notions about cometary jets. Future astronauts
should toss some chunks of ice out the door of the space shuttle and see
if "jets" created by warming from the Sun move them away from
- The supersonic velocities of the comet's
jets have nothing to do with the expelling of gases from imagined internal
chambers. We've now visited enough comets to see that the supposed jet
chambers do not exist. All of the evidence suggests that material is being
excavated electrically, then accelerated into space. In fact, the presence
of such energetic jets came as a great surprise to astronomers only because
they had never considered the possibility that a comet is a charged body
moving through the electric field of the Sun.
- As noted above, if the explanation given
on the Hubble site were correct, we should see the fragments at their brightest
as they leave the nucleus. But we don't see them until they are a great
distance away from their source. In electrical terms the smaller fragments
will naturally accelerate faster because the electric force will be the
same on each fragment, regardless of its mass.
- It might also be worth looking for a
relationship between solar outbursts and flaring of fragments. The electrical
model would expect some occurrence of simultaneous outbursts of separated
fragments. The old school would have a hard time explaining that.
- Thornhill has identified the mechanism
of comet disintegration as that of an exploding capacitor, a mechanism
seen also in earthquakes. In our Picture of the Day, "Sunspots and
Earthquakes" we noted, "All that is required to trigger the comet
fragmentation is an electrical breakdown within the comet. In this sense,
it may be analogous to the electrical breakdown evident in an earthquake.
And that breakdown in the comet may happen with any sudden change in the
solar plasma environment. The more sudden the change in the comet's electrical
environment, the more likely that flaring and fragmentation will occur".
- See-- http://thunderbolts.info/tpod/2006/arch06/060404earthquakes.htm
- Photo Credit: NASA, ESA, H. Weaver (JHU/APL),
M. Mutchler and Z. Levay (STScI)