Enceladus, comets and electric moons

“William Whewell, in his 1840 synthesis The Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences, was the first to speak of consilience, literally a ‘jumping together’ of knowledge by the linking together of facts and fact-based theory across disciplines to create a common groundwork of explanation.”

“When we have unified enough certain knowledge, we will understand who we are and why we are here.”
– Edward O. Wilson, Consilience.

A montage of Enceladus and a comet to emphasize the unexpected similarity of the composition of their jets.

A montage of Enceladus and a comet to emphasize the unexpected similarity of the composition of their jets. The Enceladus image is courtesy of NASA/JPL.

Recent reports about Saturn’s mysterious moon, Enceladus, have supported the advance claims of the Electric Universe view of the shared origin of planets and comets while requiring post hoc, implausible adjustments to the conventional theory of origin of planets and moons from a nebular disk — a problematic 200-year-old theory lacking any successful predictions. Gravitational collapse of a rotating proto-solar nebula has problems; accretion of large bodies from smaller bodies has not been shown to work; and up to 99 percent of the matter in the imagined original solar nebula, having formed the planets, has then to be removed! “The disk from which the Sun and planets formed has now vanished, reminding one of the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland that disappeared, leaving only its smile behind.”*

Nearly all of the key processes of astronomical theory occurred in the remote past or are otherwise unobservable — the birth processes of stars and planets; the hypothetical nuclear furnaces in stars; and the ‘dynamos’ within celestial bodies that are supposed to generate magnetic fields. Most of the basic theoretical models are far-fetched. For instance, the production and dispersal of all heavy elements only in rare supernovae explosions, the formation of collapsing nebulae from dissipating matter, and the re-dispersal of most of it after forming the solar system. It is a story requiring miracles in every chapter — a hallmark of science fiction. However, the story is now so entrenched that it takes precedence over counter evidence. When writing fantasy, the constraints on imagination are no more than they were for Lewis Carroll when he wrote Alice in Wonderland. Reading the popular journals, astronomy has become a Mad Hatter’s tea party, leaving us baffled with a strange use of language like ‘fabric of space-time,’ ‘dark matter’ and ‘dark energy’ to conceal obvious deficiencies in basic understanding and theory.

“Alice felt dreadfully puzzled. The Hatter’s remark seemed to have no sort of meaning in it, and yet it was certainly English. `I don’t quite understand you,’ she said, as politely as she could.”
—Lewis Carroll.

Physics Today - Plasma Universe edition

The benefit of plasma cosmology and the Electric Universe is that all of the important processes occur in space and on the surfaces of stars and planets. They are in plain view of telescopes and spacecraft instruments covering the electromagnetic spectrum from radio waves to X-rays and gamma-rays. The concepts are grounded in sound electrical engineering principles. And plasma phenomena are scaleable from the laboratory to galactic dimensions, which make them amenable to experimental testing. Imagination is constrained, as it should be, by observation and experiment. It is the way that science is supposed to be conducted, not by mathematicians modeling the grin of the Cheshire Cat.

Prof. Taylor stated the obvious when he wrote, “There are only two ways to make things. The first is to start with something big and break it into pieces. The second is to build a larger structure from little bits.”* Familiarity with one story leads him to consider only the solar nebula as the ‘something big.’ However, plasma experiments show that big objects (stars) are formed very efficiently in a cosmic lightning bolt in a dusty nebula — rather like bead lightning where the discharge pinches off to form a string of bright plasma spheres. Once formed, the stars “scatter like buckshot” and each star may fission to achieve electrical stability. This explains why about three quarters of stars have partners. That figure would be higher if we were to include gas giant partners.

The Electric Universe ‘starts with something big and breaks it into pieces.’ The fission process is repeated in further electrical disturbances by flaring red dwarfs and gas giant planets ejecting rocky and icy planets, moons, comets, asteroids and meteorites. Planetary systems may also be acquired over time by electrical capture of independent interstellar bodies such as dim brown dwarf stars. That seems the best explanation for our ‘fruit salad’ of a solar system. Capture of a brown dwarf requires that the dim star accommodate to a new electrical environment within the plasma sheath of the Sun. The brown dwarf flares and ejects matter, which becomes planets, moons and smaller debris. The ‘dead’ dwarf star becomes a gas giant planet.

This is not the 4.5 billion year evolutionary story of the clockwork solar system taught to us in Astronomy I. There is no primordial nebular ‘stuff’ of which all objects in the solar system were formed at the one time. The ‘stuff’ of which stars are made has been differentiated and altered by plasma discharge processes. All stars produce heavy elements in their photospheric discharges, which alters their internal composition with time. And the ‘stuff’ expelled electrically from inside stars and gas giants is further modified elementally, chemically and isotopically.

Meteorites bear witness to this process in their isotopic anomalies and the myriad tiny glass spheres found in most of them — attributed by more than one brave astronomer to ‘lightning’ in the solar nebula. The production of heavy radioactive elements in situ by ‘cosmic thunderbolts’ renders standard geological dating techniques useless for establishing ages. Other distinctions of the Electric Universe model are so stark as to provide simple observational tests to eliminate one or the other model. Saturn’s moon, Enceladus, provides another opportunity.

* S. Ross Taylor, Destiny or Chance: our solar system and its place in the universe, pp. 41 and 51.


 

Enceladus’s plume was found to have a comet-like chemistry by Cassini’s Ion and Neutral Mass Spectrometer.

Enceladus’s plume was found to have a comet-like chemistry by Cassini’s Ion and Neutral Mass Spectrometer during its fly-through of the plume on 12 March 2008. Water vapor, methane, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, simple organics and complex organics were identified in the plume. The graph shows the chemical constituents in percentage of abundance found in comets compared to those found in Enceladus’s plume. Credits: NASA/JPL/SwRI

On March 26 the official ESA website posted the following report:

The Cassini spacecraft tasted and sampled a surprising organic brew erupting in geyser-like fashion from Saturn’s moon Enceladus during a close flyby on 12 March. Scientists are amazed that this tiny moon is so active, ‘hot’ and brimming with water vapour and organic chemicals.

New heat maps of the surface show higher temperatures than previously known in the south polar region, with hot tracks running the length of giant fissures. Additionally, scientists say the organics ‘taste and smell’ like some of those found in a comet. The jets themselves harmlessly peppered Cassini, exerting measurable torque on the spacecraft, and providing an indirect measure of the plume density.

“A completely unexpected surprise is that the chemistry of Enceladus, what’s coming out from inside, resembles that of a comet,” said Hunter Waite, principal investigator for the Cassini Ion and Neutral Mass Spectrometer at the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. “To have primordial material coming out from inside a Saturn moon raises many questions on the formation of the Saturn system.”

“Enceladus is by no means a comet. Comets have tails and orbit the sun, and Enceladus’s activity is powered by internal heat while comet activity is powered by sunlight,’ said Waite.

Comment: Except for the obvious, “comets have tails and orbit the sun,” none of Waite’s other assertions are correct. Only a source of internal heat has been considered on Enceladus. The crucial discovery is the “completely unexpected surprise” of the similarity of the chemistry of the jets of comets and Enceladus. It should not have been a surprise. The jets of both are an electric discharge phenomenon, heating the surface. The matter in the jets is coming from the surface and not the interior. And the chemistry of the jets is comparable because comets are born from the same parent bodies and under the same electrical conditions as rocky and icy planets and moons. The concept of ‘primordial material’ has no basis outside the nebular theory. The only difference between Enceladus and a comet is their orbits. If Enceladus were to follow a cometary orbit it would suffer electrical interactions with the solar plasma and appear a giant comet.

It is singularly appropriate that Enceladus was named after one of the Giants of Greek legend who fought with the celestial gods. The Giants are depicted variously with long hair and beard, powerful wings, or snakes for legs. All of these features are ancient symbols of comets.

Revolt of the Giants.

Revolt of the Giants. The serpents, barrage of rocks (meteorites) and the cosmic tree are all symbols associated with extraordinary cometary electrical activity in the solar system, together with polar mega-auroral displays recorded globally in strange petroglyphs by prehistoric humans. Illustration from Harry Thurston Peck, Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities (1898).

We ignore the celestial origins of myth and legend to our great cost. They provide an astronomy stretching back over many thousands of years. Although appearing obscure on the surface, a forensic approach to the earliest global myths uncovers unambiguous correspondence between ancient depictions of the appearance of the sky gods and the recent discoveries of complex high-energy plasma discharge behavior. The “thunderbolts of the gods” takes on crucial significance in the history of the solar system.

According to the Electric Universe model, in its birth from its parent, Saturn, Enceladus would have had a post-natal cometary tail that formed a ring about its parent. This kind of scenario is the explanation for the origin of Saturn’s ephemeral rings. This is not to say that legends have anything specific to tell us about Saturn’s small moon. It is merely to highlight the fact that there is no intrinsic difference between Enceladus and a comet. The claims of the Electric Universe come with extraordinary evidence and successful predictions. The extraordinary claims of the nebular theory come with little evidence and unsuccessful predictions. Astronomical data requires a much broader analysis than its practitioners are trained to do. Specialization is the enemy of consilience. As E. O. Wilson wrote, “When we have unified enough certain knowledge, we will understand who we are and why we are here.”


 

 

Hot spots in 'tiger stripes'

Jet spots in tiger stripes

Heat radiating from the entire length of 150 km-long fractures is seen in this best-yet heat map of the active south polar region of Saturn’s ice moon Enceladus. The warmest parts of the fractures tend to lie on locations of the plume jets identified in earlier images, shown in the annotated version with yellow stars. The measurements were obtained by the Cassini spacecraft’s Composite Infrared Spectrometer from the spacecraft’s close flyby of the moon on 12 March 2008.

Remarkably high temperatures, at least 180 Kelvin were registered along the brightest fracture, named Damascus Sulcus, in the lower left portion of the image. For comparison, surface temperatures elsewhere in the south polar region of Enceladus are below 72 Kelvin.
Heat is escaping from Enceladus’ interior along these warm fractures, dubbed “tiger stripes,” which are also the source of the geysers that erupt from the polar region. The infrared data, shown in false colour, are superimposed on a greyscale image mosaic of the south pole obtained by Cassini’s cameras on 14 July 2005, during the previous close Enceladus flyby. Numbers on the map indicate latitude and longitude.

This new view shows that at least three of the south polar fractures are active along almost their full lengths – the fourth one, on the right, was only partially covered by this scan. The level of activity varies greatly along the fractures. The warmest parts of the fractures tend to lie on locations of the plume jets identified in earlier images. The main ‘tiger stripe’ fractures are not the only sources of heat, however; additional warm spots are seen in the upper right part of the scan. The warm regions are probably concentrated within less than a few hundred meters (a few hundred yards) of the fractures, and their apparent width in this image results from the relatively low resolution of the infrared data.

This map was made by scanning the south pole during the period from 16 to 37 minutes after closest approach to Enceladus, at a distance between 14,000 and 32,000 km as Cassini rapidly receded from its close, 50-km flyby. Credits: NASA/JPL/GSFC/SwRI/SSI

Comment: It is reasonable to assume that the ‘tiger stripes’ are fractures, based on standard geology. However, the stripes do look like claw marks scratched across the moon’s surface. And that is a more useful analogy if we look for parallels on other moons that orbit in a similar electromagnetic environment — such as Jupiter’s innermost Galilean satellites.


Jupiter’s Electric Moons

The first images of Europa from Voyagers 1 and 2 revealed a smooth whitish sphere, crisscrossed with lines like a well-used skating rink. Science writers described it as “a surface that looked as if it had been clawed by a tiger with talons several kilometers wide,” and as “enigmatic” and “difficult to interpret in terms of mechanism.” Closer views resolved each line into a groove flanked by ridges or levees.

Europas freeways

Soon after NASA published the first close-up images of Europa’s surface, Arthur C. Clarke described the image above as the “most extraordinary ever received from space.” In May 1997, Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe wrote a letter about the channels to the scientific journal, Nature:

“[The channels] have an almost uncanny persistence. They cross over each other, maintaining their identities over distances …very large compared to their individual widths.”

After favoring the analogy of a system of ropes, the authors asked the obvious question,

“How did the ropes come to be laid in the complex pattern in which we now see them?”

Needless to say, Nature would not publish the contentious letter. The larger channels travel thousands of kilometres along great circles without being diverted by the terrain. Whatever mechanism formed them must explain this tendency. Repeated tidal cracking and compression of ice is too chaotic a process to explain it. As we shall see, the Hoyle/Wickramasinghe analogy of ropes stretched between two points is remarkably apt.

Another early description used the term “sinuous rille-like features” to describe the channels, but the analogy was not pursued because rilles are usually attributed to collapsed lava tubes. However, the analogy, like that of ropes, is accurate. The longest channels run along great circles and connect two regions, roughly sub-Jovian and anti-Jovian, that are described as “chaotic.” (Like many other solid bodies in the solar system, Europa shows odd hemispheric differences). Those channels are up to 70 km wide and run over 3,000 km, or 30 percent of the distance around Europa. Yet they maintain parallel sides with a constant width and cross-section over almost the entire length. Tidal forces on tiny Europa cannot maintain the same intensity over such a distance to give this uniformity to a fissure.

Cracking ice will tend to follow weaknesses caused by earlier cracks in the ice. The repeated opening and closing of cracks proposed to account for their ridges-and-groove morphology relies on this tendency. But many channels on Europa disregard existing terrain, plowing through earlier channels without deviation and ignoring the presumably weaker shear planes. Where the channels intersect at oblique angles, the opposite sides of earlier channels often do not show the offset which the geometry of cracking and expansion necessarily creates. The intersections are of superimposed channels. Superimposition implies an external origin and fits the early description of a surface that had been “clawed by a tiger.”

The conventional explanation for the ridge and groove cross-section of the ‘cracks’ on Europa.

The conventional explanation for the ridge and groove cross-section of the ‘cracks’ on Europa.

The repeated crushing of ice that is squeezed to the surface is unlikely to produce everywhere the appearance or cross-section of a neatly plowed furrow. It does not appear that any ridges contain more material than would be necessary to fill the groove, which is consistent with their being furrows. And there are no ridges observed without the central groove: In other words, all the purported cracks are open. One would expect about half, certainly some, of the cracks to be in the “crushed” position. This fact alone discredits the claim that the ridges are formed by material from beneath the surface repeatedly squeezed through a crack in the ice. But in addition, having all of the cracks open requires that surface ice elsewhere must have crumpled or slid beneath the surface for a distance of hundreds of kilometres. There is no sign of crumpling or subduction.

The channels are the icy Europan equivalent of lightning rilles on rocky bodies. But instead of being the target of thunderbolts, Europa was a hapless passer-by in a larger electrical exchange. Europa was caught in the crossfire. The small moon was forced to conduct current from one hemisphere to the other across its icy surface. The dominant pattern of rilles suggests a discharge originating from Jupiter. It was an externally imposed electric field between two hemispheres of Europa that gave rise to the discharges that formed the “freeways,” some covering thousands of kilometres in a purposeful manner and ignoring all obstacles.

A discharge tends to form a number of equally spaced current filaments. The force between any two filaments is attractive beyond a certain distance and repulsive inside that distance. That causes each filament to retain its identity and to space itself equidistantly from its neighboring filaments. These powerful parallel lightning bolts streak across the surface, plowing grooves with raised levees of material thrown to either side — or parallel rilles. Once again, it is the parallel furrows that evokes the image of having been “clawed by a tiger.”

Confirmation of the electrical model comes from the even more extraordinary looping, or cycloid, rilles on Europa, known collectively as “flexi.” The longest extends more than 1600 km and is made up of several loops, each roughly 100 kilometres long.

Cycloids on Europa

Credit: NASA/JPL

Flexi, like all other rille-like features on Europa, cannot be cracks in the ice. An electrical explanation for the flexi is straightforward. Ice is more homogeneous than rock. This would tend to produce relatively uniform rilles as the discharge channel follows the strong electric field along great circles from the sub-Jovian hemisphere to the opposite hemisphere. It is known that an ambient horizontal magnetic field causes a travelling arc to trace a cycloidal pattern, which is simply a combination of linear and rotary motion. The ambient field would be due to the Jovian discharge that engulfed Europa. The longest cycloidal rilles have loops with a slowly changing radius of curvature. That can be explained electrically because each loop varies in response to the strength of the ambient magnetic field.

Europa retains a snapshot of past electrical violence by Jupiter. But Jupiter’s innermost Galilean moon, Io, remains electrically active. Like Enceladus, it sports cathode jets, misinterpreted by planetary scientists as volcanoes. Being in the more dynamic electromagnetic environment of Jupiter, the Io jets are more powerful than those on Enceladus and the surface machining more extensive and dynamic.

Loki on Io's limb.

This Voyager 1 image of Io shows the active plume of Loki on the limb. Credit: NASA / JPL

With a plume like the one above, we should expect to see a single powerful vent. However, when one of the plume sources was viewed close up and at night what did we see? The same kind of thing we see on Enceladus — a number of hot spots arranged in a line.

Pele

The official explanation is that this image shows an outline of fresh, hot lava that follows the margin of Pele's caldera. Credit: NASA / JPL

“The volcano Pele glows in the night in this close-up image of Jupiter’s moon Io, obtained by NASA’s Galileo spacecraft in the closest-ever Io flyby on October 10, 1999. Only surfaces hotter than 600 degrees Celsius (1,100 degrees Fahrenheit) are visible in this image. The hot material forms a thin, curving line more than 10 kilometers (6 miles) long and up to 50 meters (150 feet) wide. Galileo scientists believe that the changes in brightness along the curving line are due to variations in the amount of hot lava exposed at the surface.”
Credit: NASA/JPL

The official explanation is far-fetched. However, it is characteristic of cathode jets to erode the sharp edges of a crater. It is also characteristic of a corona discharge to form jets spaced roughly equally, which explains the line of hot spots. It may be possible to confirm equal spacing of some of the jets on Enceladus. Higher resolution images of that moon should show a similar pattern of hot spots along the “tiger stripes” where the enhanced heat output is detected. Meanwhile, Io is a living laboratory of the electric discharge machining of planetary surfaces.


The cometary nature of Enceladus doesn’t merely “raise many questions on the formation of the Saturn system.” It raises serious questions about the modern mythology of the formation of the entire solar system. If we are to take the concept of consilience seriously, and I think it is an imperative if we are to have a cosmology that answers all questions, then we must understand the ancient references to electrical activity in the heavens that is beyond modern experience. We must grasp the meaning of the thunderbolts of the gods.

Wal Thornhill

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