Sep 20, 2007
Milky Way Plasma-focus Plasmoid
Infrared and x-ray telescopes
have confirmed the existence of a plasma-focus plasmoid at
the core of the Milky Way. This high-energy electrical
formation is the heart of the galactic circuit.
Recent infrared and x-ray views of our galaxy’s core
have revealed a plasma torus (doughnut-shaped ring), or plasmoid,
less than two light-years across. Because dust blocks visible light,
viewing the core has not been possible until the advent of
telescopes that can “see” infrared and x-ray light, which can
penetrate dust. The x-ray radiation from the plasmoid is typical of
that given off by highly excited stars, indicating extremely strong
electrical stress. The strong electrical field in the plasmoid acts
as a particle accelerator. Electrons accelerated to high speeds will
spiral in a magnetic field and give off x-rays. They also give off
x-rays when they pass near a heavier ion.
The plasmoid also accelerates ions—primarily
hydrogen and helium nuclei—to high speeds. The ions collide and fuse
to build up heavier nuclei. This accounts for the plasmoid’s
observed enrichment in oxygen and iron.
The plasmoid is the “generator” that powers the
intermittent ejections from a galactic core. In a
electrical power flows inward along the spiral arms, lighting the
stars as it goes, and is concentrated and stored in the central
plasmoid. When the plasmoid reaches a threshold density, it
discharges, usually along the galaxy’s spin axis. This process can
be replicated in a laboratory with the
plasma focus device.
The discharge forms a jet of neutrons, heavy ions, and electrons.
The neutrons decay to form concentrations of matter that appear as
Electromagnetic forces confine the jet to thin
filaments that remain coherent for thousands of light-years.
The jet usually ends in double layers that extend for many times the
size of the galaxy and radiate copiously in
The diffuse currents then flow toward the galaxy’s equatorial plane
and spiral back toward the core.
A core plasmoid
was first discovered in the
Andromeda galaxy, our neighbor
and possibly our “mother”. With this discovery of the
plasmoid at the core of the Milky Way, we can expect similar
discoveries for all nearby galaxies.
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