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Brightest Supernova Discovered

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the how-standard-the-candle dept.

Space 63

Maggie McKee writes "Astronomers have spotted the brightest supernova ever seen — it is intrinsically two to three times brighter than any previously recorded. It has many characteristics of a type Ia explosion, but has hydrogen in its spectrum, unlike other type Ia's. That suggests that this supernova resulted from the collision of two stars — most likely a white dwarf and a red giant — rather than from an exploding white dwarf. If so, it might affect the interpretation of previous cosmological studies that depend on type Ia 'standard candle' observations, like dark energy. But other astronomers say merger-triggered explosions are probably rare and therefore won't throw a wrench in the works."

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63 comments

Book (2, Informative)

2.7182 (819680) | more than 7 years ago | (#17460038)

If you are really interested in the topic I recommend

Fraser, Craig G.
Title The cosmos : a historical perspective
Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, 2006.

I learned a lot from it about novas.

Re:Book (2, Funny)

AddressException (187785) | more than 7 years ago | (#17462546)

I learned a lot from it about novas.
...except how to pluralize "nova" ;)

Re:Book (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17467526)

Hey dumbass you have to move fast to get a first post.

Heh (1)

B3ryllium (571199) | more than 7 years ago | (#17460048)

Maybe this one will draw in a bigger crowd than Lukas Rossi.

(I kid, I kid! He's an upstanding Canadian guy ...)

WARNING! (2, Funny)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 7 years ago | (#17460116)

Do not look into the supernova with your remaining eye!

(theres a lot of bright shiney things around at the moment, I'm surprised anyone can see anything at all)

Re:WARNING! (3, Funny)

Ceriel Nosforit (682174) | more than 7 years ago | (#17460554)

(theres a lot of bright shiney things around at the moment, I'm surprised anyone can see anything at all)

Those are the LED lights on your computer. The stars and such are Outside. You know, outside; where the bears are.

Re:WARNING! (1)

gmby (205626) | more than 7 years ago | (#17467148)

outside; where the bears are."

And the Tabby Cat from hell! [bbc.co.uk]

That would make a great signal flare (1)

oni (41625) | more than 7 years ago | (#17460156)

If, hypothetically, you found yourself to have evolved first or to exist in an otherwise empty galaxy - then you might look for an easy way to get the attention of any civilizations in any other galaxies. If you could move a star (details, details) then this would be a good way to get yourself noticed.

Of course, you would want to do it several times over a short period, and you would want it to coincide with a radio transmission that actually contained some data. So the way it works is, a hundred million years from now another civilization sees the stars go up, so they point their radio telescope at the galaxy, and they hear your message.

I realize this is all just a fantasy, but it's a cool one.

TCP/IP over supernova (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17460454)

someone write it up

Re:TCP/IP over supernova (1)

SpaceLifeForm (228190) | more than 7 years ago | (#17461522)

It could be based on this faster Protocol [wikipedia.org] .

Re:TCP/IP over supernova (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17468648)

Except there's no physical transmission, so you're going to have an astronomical ratio of latency to data transfer, unless there's information encoded in the nova itself, which is needless to say hard to do. Unless you take a solar sail, plop it down at a safe distance, and attach high-density storage to it... in which case it's still going to be slow, and any malfunction with the sail, error in placement, or unforeseen quirks of the shock wave would likely send it wildly out of position. Putting in more storage would make it slower, and there are probably easier ways to ship data, except for the cases where a) the flare served as an indication that the package was coming or b) lots of solar sails set out at once from the same nova (and possibly even then). But I'd hate to imagine calculating out the nova explosion to the point where you can propel something with accuracy over (in all probability) millions of light years. Besides which the shock wave would probably incinerate the solar sail. In any case it's probably cheaper to look for tachyons than try arrange the brightest nova ever.

Re:That would make a great signal flare (1)

puppetman (131489) | more than 7 years ago | (#17461320)

"If, hypothetically, you found yourself to have evolved first or to exist in an otherwise empty galaxy - then you might look for an easy way to get the attention of any civilizations in any other galaxies."

Like the Borg?

Greg Bear hypothesized in Darwin's Radio that it might be unwise to announce your presence before you are able to defend yourself. Think of a baby bird in a nest, chirping loudly when it's mother is not around.

Of course, in your scenario, the civilization has the power to move stars, and to cause super novas - perhaps not a helpless civilization...

Re:That would make a great signal flare (1)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 7 years ago | (#17462140)

The thing is, when do you know that a civilization is "capable of defending itself"? You can never answer that without first knowing the capabilities of other surrounding civilizations. I mean, right now we got nukes and jet fighters. For all we know our stuff might be the shiz-nit to beat in the universe, or they could be absolute junk compared to any other civilization in existence. In 100 years when we have Mk VII Vipers flying around . . . the same could still be true. They could be state of the art or they could be junk. Point is if we continually wait to achieve some unknown level of technology, we'll never find anyone else.

Compare it to upgrade cycles. You know that it's usually foolish to delay a useful upgrade because something better is "coming out in a few months". Something better is ALWAYS coming out. If you always wait for it you'll never get anything.

Re:That would make a great signal flare (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17462460)

You're nothing until you can induce a star to go nova.

Re:That would make a great signal flare (1)

puppetman (131489) | more than 7 years ago | (#17463714)

It's a little simpler than that.

If some other civilization has the power to get here, and we don't have the power to get there, I'd say they have a technological advantage that would be overwhelming. If F16s are the most potent weapon in the universe, then I would say that we are not about to be visited any time soon, and thus we have nothing to worry about.

But if you want to plan on the contingency of fighting an inter-galactic war, you should be technologically advanced enough to fight it - we can barely get off our own planet.

Re:That would make a great signal flare (2, Interesting)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 7 years ago | (#17475458)

You missed my point. The point is we can never, ever know how advanced our stuff is compared to theirs. We don't even know if there is a "there stuff". So yes if F-22's (not F-16's :D) are the most advanced thing we have nothing to worry about. But it don't matter if we got little intergalactic fighters with friggin laser beams attached to their friggin heads - if we haven't come into contact with another race yet then they could very well just swat them all like flies . . . . or they might come against them with F-16 level stuff.

My point is just - until we meet another race, we simply DON'T know how our technology stacks up. If we flat our refuse to send out signals "until we're ready" then we better consign ourselves to letting them find us first, becuase you can never know if you're "ready" without knowing about them first.

Re:That would make a great signal flare (3, Interesting)

east coast (590680) | more than 7 years ago | (#17461410)

If, hypothetically, you found yourself to have evolved first or to exist in an otherwise empty galaxy - then you might look for an easy way to get the attention of any civilizations in any other galaxies. If you could move a star (details, details) then this would be a good way to get yourself noticed.

Just to poke a hypothetical hole in your hypothetical civilization...

I think the real questions here is the evolution of technology by an alien culture. For what you've said to make sense this civilization would have to have the ability to guide stars in a significant fashion while not having the ability to do simple observance as we do today. IMHO that's just too far fetched.

Consider our own little planet here: we have a limited ability to detect solar systems and radio signals from a distance within our own galaxy. Yet, we do not have the ability to jump to the next semi-habitable planet and stay there on a permanent basis. It's fairly clear that our ability to observe the cosmos is much much better than our ability to [work within/live within/manipulate] anything outside of our own little sphere of mud and rock.

It's just a question of how a civilization could evolve in such a fashion as to be able to work with outer space but not be able to observe it beyond their own first-hand experience.

If I had the insight or imagination to figure this out into a workable model I'd be one hell of a science fiction writer.

Re:That would make a great signal flare (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17461760)

For what you've said to make sense this civilization would have to have the ability to guide stars in a significant fashion while not having the ability to do simple observance as we do today
If they evolved first there would be nothing to observe. The lag in time for the signal to reach other galaxies would give time for other civilizations to evolve the ability to detect your signal.

Re:That would make a great signal flare (1)

oni (41625) | more than 7 years ago | (#17462280)

Consider our own little planet here:

what I suggested is NOT for planet-to-planet communication. It's about "what do you do if you're alone in your galaxy." There are more galaxies in the universe than there are stars in any one galaxy. Just transmitting a radio signal (a-la contact) isn't going to get you noticed. Someone would have to point a arecebo-size telescope at your galaxy to hear your signal. That's very unlikely.

So how do you get noticed? Cause a supernova. Or actually, a better idea would be to drop material into a black hole, thus giving off gama rays. You could time the drops to create pulses of gama rays that would be obviously nonrandom.

At any rate, the point is that you need a lot of energy to get civilizations in other galaxies to notice you.

Re:That would make a great signal flare (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 7 years ago | (#17462582)

> At any rate, the point is that you need a lot of energy to get civilizations
> in other galaxies to notice you.

Or a lot of directivity.

Why would you bother, though? You won't get heard for millions of years.

Re:That would make a great signal flare (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17464394)

Not as big of a deal if you live for ten thousand years.

Re:That would make a great signal flare (3, Insightful)

oni (41625) | more than 7 years ago | (#17466150)

Why would you bother, though? You won't get heard for millions of years.

you don't do this because you expect to be heard. Remember, the universe that this happens in is one where life is so incredibly rare that you searched your entire galaxy and didn't find any (we're talking a class III civilization here). So, on the off chance that there is life in another galaxy you announce your existance.

You'll never hear a reply - but if you don't do it, they will never hear YOU. On the other hand, if everyone follows my logic, then everyone will announce and you will hear from every civilization. And "hearing" from them probably means getting their version of the encyclopedia galactica. Everybody transmits everything they know.

What more do you want, a conversation? If you transmit your entire body of knowledge and all your history and all your culture, what more is there to talk about anyway? What do you think, you're going to get on the live and go: "a/s/l????"

Youre way of thinking, when you say, "why bother" is tragedy of the commons thinking. You don't want to take any action unless you personally get a return on that action. That's very selfish. If everyone else thinks unselfishly, then everyone will get everyone else's encyclopedia galactica.

Re:That would make a great signal flare (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17470824)

Youre way of thinking, when you say, "why bother" is tragedy of the commons thinking. You don't want to take any action unless you personally get a return on that action. That's very selfish. If everyone else thinks unselfishly, then everyone will get everyone else's encyclopedia galactica.
Let's see if I got this straight: You're the one arguing for blowing up entire stars for no other purpose than to write "Kilroy Was Here", and he is the one being selfish?

Re:That would make a great signal flare (1)

east coast (590680) | more than 7 years ago | (#17464764)

My point has more to deal with what abilities an alien civilization may have and the returns of investment involved in pushing two stars together.

Once you're at the point where you can influence the position of a star it's very unlikely that you're going to have a problem noticing other civilizations through pure observation, not being observed by others. I will grant you that waiting for someone to take notice of a weak signal across intergalactic space is such a terrible concept it's hardly worth considering. But if you're the one looking for the other civilizations and you have such a commanding technology there is little chance of not having the ability to scope out other civilizations without having to send out the signal.

That's the reason I took our current (ie. known) situation; we stand a much better chance of noticing another civilization from observation than what we do trying to "flag" someones attention towards our corner of space. We could get into an argument on the finer points of the word "communication" but if you simply want to send out a signal and hope someone gets back to you it seems like it's a sky high goal compared to taking the situation in hand and finding them first via observation.

Part of my point (that I didn't address directly) is also that by the time a civilization has the power to push around a star to create this signal they probably wouldn't need the signal. They'd likely have progressed to the point where other simpler methods would be just as effective with very low material costs.

I guess it's like the question of the Dyson Sphere: once a civilization has the know-how and ability to create a Dyson sphere are they really going to need it? Sometimes a technology, while neat for the geek factor, costs way more in resources and time than what it's worth in possible returns.

Re:That would make a great signal flare (1)

oni (41625) | more than 7 years ago | (#17466250)

I see what you're saying, but here's the part I doubt:

Once you're at the point where you can influence the position of a star it's very unlikely that you're going to have a problem noticing other civilizations through pure observation

I wonder if the laws of physics allow seeing any kind of civilization in another galaxy. How big of a telescope do you need to hear normal radio communications in another galaxy (we're NOT talking about an intentional "hello world" signal. we're talking about TV and radar etc.) how would you see that?

Take a look at this image:

http://www.eso.org/outreach/press-rel/pr-2000/phot -07a-00-normal.jpg [eso.org]

Sometimes it's hard to wrap my brain around this, but that fuzzy glow is stars. We can't even see individual stars, just the fuzzy glow. How are we supposed to see radio on a planet around a star when we can't even resolve the individual star?

This is a MUCH bigger problem than searching for life in your own galaxy (that's a huge problem). In order to spot life in another glaxy, they would have to give off enormous amounts of energy.

Re:That would make a great signal flare (1)

east coast (590680) | more than 7 years ago | (#17467692)

Sometimes it's hard to wrap my brain around this, but that fuzzy glow is stars. We can't even see individual stars, just the fuzzy glow. How are we supposed to see radio on a planet around a star when we can't even resolve the individual star?

And with our same limited technology you're proposing moving a star when we haven't even moved an asteroid yet? What's the debate here? If you're using our ability to see into another galaxy as proof of another civilizations ability to be able to observe their neighboring galaxy I think you're going to have a lot of explaining to do when it comes down to the question of our ability to manipulate space.

My original post addressed this very issue.

And if you have a problem getting your head around the concept of those being individual stars just think: We have seen stars with using radio detection methods and detected planets around them using optics from distances that we would have a hard time understanding... we have yet to influence even an atom of matter more than 100 AU from our planet.

Re:That would make a great signal flare (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 7 years ago | (#17467200)

I think it was the astronomer Patrick Moore" [wikipedia.org] who recently described Gamma Ray bursts as "Alien industrial accidents".

Re:That would make a great signal flare (1)

Froboz23 (690392) | more than 7 years ago | (#17463990)

If you could move a star (details, details) then this would be a good way to get yourself noticed.
True. I suspect this is another failed viral marketing attempt by Sony. Did any one happen to notice if the supernova was shaped like the letters P S P?

Re:That would make a great signal flare (1)

Adambomb (118938) | more than 7 years ago | (#17465452)

Sounds nice in theory, but i'd hate to think of the probabilities of a) a significantly advanced race able to do so b) a receiving race that is paying attention when the light and RF waves pass their planet, c) that they notice its non-random and d) the "data" sent in between is not mangled to death by the supernovae's shockwaves.

I think a race able to move/detonate stars at will would try to think of a method that doesnt compound tiny probabilities so much =)

Blowed up real good!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17467466)

Yeee-haaawr!!!

If it was so bright (2, Funny)

Evets (629327) | more than 7 years ago | (#17460552)

If it was so bright, how come nobody ever saw it before?

Re:If it was so bright (2, Insightful)

Capt'n Hector (650760) | more than 7 years ago | (#17461166)

I don't know if you're being serious or not, but I'll answer anyway. Supernovae are transient objects: they show up suddenly and are very bright, growing to their maximum brightness within the first week. They then taper off and disappear in a few months. Astronomers will take a picture of a supernova every night and then graph its (apparent) birghtness as a function of time. This light curve is most useful if there's data from when the supernova is at its brightest, which is why it's best to catch supernovae early. You can then classify supernovae according to its light curve and spectrum, and they usually fall into several predictible camps (Type Ia, Ib, Ic, II,...).

Re:If it was so bright (1)

Evets (629327) | more than 7 years ago | (#17461738)

I was joking... but thanks - very informative.

Re:If it was so bright (1)

IdleTime (561841) | more than 7 years ago | (#17462536)

Why?

Because it's not a supernova, but just one of the rappers in "Black Fangs", the famous Sagittarius group who lit up a nebular joint with cosmic weed or dark matter, after a concert to set off the after party!

Wow (1)

eviloverlordx (99809) | more than 7 years ago | (#17460578)

FTA, it looks like the supernova is brighter than the host galaxy's core. Not a bad way to go out, if you're a star.

Re:Wow (1)

Slashcrap (869349) | more than 7 years ago | (#17471708)

FTA, it looks like the supernova is brighter than the host galaxy's core. Not a bad way to go out, if you're a star.

But quite a bad way to go if you're a budding civilisation in the aforementioned galaxy. Having your entire planet sterilised can really ruin your day.

Linux. (0, Offtopic)

Kwiik (655591) | more than 7 years ago | (#17460866)

Yes, but does it run linux?

We have nova and supernova already... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17460886)

Can't we call it a hypernova? And if we find anything brighter, we can call that an ultranova.

Re:We have nova and supernova already... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17461550)

We're L33t H4x0r5 here, so it's H¥p3rñ0v4 and ultr4ñ0v4.

Re:We have nova and supernova already... (1)

Explo (132216) | more than 7 years ago | (#17465492)

Actually, the hypernova [wikipedia.org] is an already established term :)

You know..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17461006)

You know, If I were to look for intelligent life, I would think of finding rare and exciting things in the sky, such as this, and figure out "If I had the capability, how close would I get to the occurance to view it safely?" and look there.

Seriously, we have traffic jams when people rubberneck to see some guy with a flat tire on the side of the road. An intergalactic explosion would certainly draw some attention from the local neighbors, no?

Re:You know..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17461444)

Set up an optical shutter and blink the star from optical to infrared in, say, a prime number sequence (thanks Sagan.)

Hard as hell, but maybe easier than causing a supernova?

Re:You know..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17461848)

I was simply saying that we should take advantage of a naturally occuring explosion to see if it drew any attention. I mean come on, if we could see it, so could everyone else, and anyone with technology advanced enough to travel the stars would probably be closer to get a better look at it than us.

Another week, Another Space Anomaly (0, Troll)

pln2bz (449850) | more than 7 years ago | (#17461744)

And another invocation of stellar merging to explain the anomaly.

People, look at what's happening. Read the space news as a critical thinker. There isn't a week that goes by where the concept of stellar evolution isn't violated by some observation. Stellar evolution is an *assumption* that cannot possibly be proven or disproven because we won't be around long enough to see a star go through all of the steps of the process. It is completely based upon the idea that stars are nothing more than thermonuclear reactions. But our observations of the Sun do not support this concept:

1. The solar wind continues to accelerate past all of the planets as if those charged particles are within a weak electric field centered at the Sun.

2. The generation of neutrinos coming from the Sun correlates with the number of sunspots on the Sun's surface. We know that the sunspot cycle is a *magnetic* process on the *surface* of the Sun and the fusion model for the Sun proposes that the neutrinos should be generated within the deep core of the Sun. Those two steps of the process are supposedly separated by hundreds of thousands of years according to the solar fusion model. How is it possible that they are linked?

3. The surface of the Sun is around 6,000 K and the Sun's corona is around 2 million K. How is it possible that the energy generated at the core of the fusion-model Sun makes it to the corona without heating up the Sun's surface? Astrophysicists have proposed a concept called magnetic reconnections, but magnetic reconnections is completely pseudoscience. The concept of a magnetic field reconnecting and generating energy in the process is akin to a gravitational field reconnecting and generating energy. Neither can happen because field lines *never* reconnect any more than lines of latitude or longitude reconnect. Magnetic field lines are a smooth continuum. Furthermore, the points at which it is alleged that reconnection is happening -- the saddle points at the front of the "bow shock" as astrophysicists like to say -- is where the field strength is *zero*. And wherever the field strength is zero, the energy stored there at that point is also *zero*. No energy release can occur from any location at which no energy is stored. The fact that astrophysicists have been getting away with making these absurd statements regarding magnetic reconnections for decades now demonstrates the extent to which their field has run afowl of science. Any electrical engineer that hears about the details of magnetic reconnections should not stand for it, and they deserve some of the blame for not speaking louder about this. Millions of dollars are being poured into this concept right now.

Let me tell you a little story about astrophysics. Hannes Alfven, who is considered the father of plasma physics, and who received a nobel prize for this work, created the entire field of magnetohydrodynamics, which serves as the modern day basis for electricity and magnetism within astrophysics. Alfven proposed early in his career that electric currents do *not* flow through plasmas and that plasmas can be assumed to have "frozen in place" magnetic fields within them. Magnetohydrodynamics treats plasmas as fluids and assumes that they have little resistivity, so they are basically perfect conductors. In his acceptance speech for the nobel prize, he made a point of explaining that these earlier assumptions were certainly wrong, and although they may make things easier for astrophysics students, they will yield incorrect results in the real world. Modern day plasma physics are demonstrating all sorts of very unusual phenomenon, some of which can't even be said to follow Maxwell's Equations. It is now clear that the assumptions that the astrophysicists borrowed many years ago and refuse to revise in light of new findings are *wrong*. Alfven was completely ignored and the picture hasn't changed at all since then. Astrophysics students will tell you outright that electricity exists in space, but that it doesn't really *do* anything. And yet, plasma physicists can point to very striking images from space that clearly show phenomenon that they've created within the lab and that they can simulate on computers. Astrophysicists don't even speak in the language of plasma physics when they refer to plasma. When they see something happening and they need to refer to plasma to explain it, they will oftentimes make up concepts that are not supported by laboratory results. From http://www.thunderbolts.info/tpod/2006/arch06/0607 11magnetic.htm [thunderbolts.info] :

Now that astronomers are looking at real phenomena rather than elegant equations, they realize that their equations aren't as predictive as they had hoped. The magnetic reconnection equations called for a slow discharge of energy lasting for years, but the solar flares discharge in minutes with much more energy than expected. But astronomers have also noticed that whenever magnetic reconnection happens, there seem to be regions of electron-depleted space associated with it [plasma cosmologists call them electric currents.] The electron-depleted atoms are traveling at speeds of up to 1000 km/sec [which plasma cosmologists recognize as one of the "characteristic velocities" of plasma in the lab.] And astronomers find that during the magnetic reconnection process, a two-layer flow of particles is created that speeds the release of energy [plasma cosmologists call them double layers.]

The Sun exhibits all of the hallmark traits of being an *electric* phenomenon which is being powered externally, and astrophysicists exhibit all of the hallmark traits of pursuing pseudoscientific phenomenon in order to save their solar fusion model.

Re:Another week, Another Space Anomaly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17461988)

You can count on there being an extremely long post in almost every space discussion that is almost invariably related to electric-universe theory. I didn't have to read past the first sentence to guess this one correctly.

Re:Another week, Another Space Anomaly (1, Interesting)

pln2bz (449850) | more than 7 years ago | (#17463820)

Actually, they are all being written by myself. And I will continue to write them until people start paying attention because their points are valid and their theory is sound. Their message needs to get out so that the theory can be investigated (I don't want to have to wait until 2018 when the Solar Probe reveals that our solar theories are wrong). The current field of astrophysics is cherry-picking their science to the extent that it is useful to confirm their pre-existing *assumptions*, even when those assumptions appear to be inconsistent with our modern-day observations. They've succeeded in convincing the world that astrophysics is too complicated for most people, and that we should relinquish all of the critical thinking about space to them. This would almost be okay if it weren't that they believe this of other physicists too -- including plasma physicists who have earned nobel prizes and who taught them everything they currently know about electricity in space (Hannes Alfven).

If your point is that since it has to do with electric universe theory then it's not worth reading, then that would imply that reasoning no longer affects your judgment -- and you are in terms of physics, at least, like an old dog unable to learn anything new. In that case, I'm not speaking to you with my postings, and as science oftentimes does, it will wait until the old guard dies off in order to introduce the new ideas. On the other hand, if you are grateful that somebody is taking the time to point out the electric universe perspective so that it can be contrasted with the traditional paradigms whenever its relevant, then you're welcome. Forums like Slashdot are most useful when lots of people who have different ideas about the world get together and compare and contrast their beliefs. Pithy comments and jokes can be fun, but they should take a backseat to real discussions when those discussions are about serious things. And this notion that we should all agree on cosmology is outright dangerous because the chances that we have anything right at this point in time are negligible in light of the fact that new space anomalies pop up on a weekly basis. I will continue to ignore the voices of the mob with hope that people will once again decide that it is okay to think different and have your own opinions about complicated subjects. We didn't get to the point we're at today in science by trying to all think alike.

One of the reasons I'm doing this is so that in the decades to come as astrophysicists finally begin to accept *real* plasma physics into their domain more and more, and people here on Slashdot begin to realize that they were wrong to invoke the term pseudoscience without actually learning about the topic that they were ostracizing, we can all go back over my postings and the responses to them, and we can all *learn* from the experience with the hope that it will never happen again.

Once you guys all realize that all of this business about dark matter, dark energy, neutron stars, black holes, and stellar evolution is all nonsense, it's going to suddenly hit you that you've all been wasting a bunch of time and that you may not live to see the day where we actually understand the mechanics of the universe. The unfortunate thing is that I won't get to know *with* you even though I didn't fall for the bullshit like you guys did.

Re:Another week, Another Space Anomaly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17465670)

I just read your posts here and think you have some interesting observations. (I'm not the AC above.) One of the hallmarks of science is to have predictive theories, which is true about much of astrophysics (although as you point out there are unknowns and anomalies). This "electric sun" concept sounds interesting--are there any predictions from the theory that match currently known and observed astrophysical and solar phenomena?

Re:Another week, Another Space Anomaly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17466792)

There are a whole series of predictions made by electric universe theory that seem to have matching known and observed astrophysical and solar phenomena, at least to a layman like me. Having said that, I think the theory needs fleshing out more. I would like to see someone work out models of the galaxy in more detail, to see if it really could fit the electric universe theory. In particular, since the theory turns on this idea of massive electrical currents flowing through diffuse interstellar plasmas, can someone map out the current flows in detail for a section of the Milky Way and show a feasible flow? It would have to be done for a section of the Milky Way that is close enough to determine the star positions by parallax measurements, rather than depending on something like "standard candles" or any of the other assumptions being called into question. But it should be possible to at least check for bonehead maneuvers.

Re:Another week, Another Space Anomaly (1)

pln2bz (449850) | more than 7 years ago | (#17473888)

That right there is an example of logic in spite of the mob. What are the currents? Can we detect and measure them? I wonder how many decades it will take to get to the point where we're sending out probes to answer this question. Will I still be alive to see this?

But even without doing that, for now, I'd be somewhat happy to see an explanation for solar system rilles that defy gravity. What is causing canyons on planets where those canyons follow the topography of the land both *up* and down? If you need examples, go to www.thunderbolts.info. Very curious ...

Re:Another week, Another Space Anomaly (1)

Slashcrap (869349) | more than 7 years ago | (#17471732)

One of the reasons I'm doing this is so that in the decades to come as astrophysicists finally begin to accept *real* plasma physics into their domain more and more, and people here on Slashdot begin to realize that they were wrong to invoke the term pseudoscience without actually learning about the topic that they were ostracizing, we can all go back over my postings and the responses to them, and we can all *learn* from the experience with the hope that it will never happen again.

So what you're basically trying to say is, "WAAAH! Don't be mean to me!"?

Anyway, I'd just like to let you know that I'm not discounting what you say because it derives from the Electric Universe theory. I'm discounting it because of the ratio of words to actual evidence. As far as I can tell from what you have written, the main basis for this theory is something that a Nobel prize winner said during his acceptance speech.

Peer review, motherfucker! Do you speak it?

Re:Another week, Another Space Anomaly (1)

pln2bz (449850) | more than 7 years ago | (#17473674)

I actually enjoy being abused. I think it's comical in a sick sense. It is a weird, yet exciting, feeling when you know that you understand more about what's happening and more about where things are moving in science than the mob that surrounds you.

I do believe in the peer review system. The real problem is that we never made a distinction between the sciences that you can perform input on and those that you cannot. For those sciences that you cannot do much better than uniformitarianism (which is complete speculation), scientists need to learn to learn to live with uncertainty. The thing is, people don't like uncertainty. The mass media wants to *know* what's going on. If your press release doesn't tell a fanciful story, it may not get published. Forget peer review. Why bother when you can just create some color-enhanced images and release them directly to the public? That appears to work just as well as publishing in a journal these days. The fact that all of you guys let it work too this past year means that you can expect to see more of it. I can't wait!

I just explained to you in my previous posting that the entirety of electricity and magnetism as far as astrophysics is concerned is based upon theories that have since been recused by the nobel physics laureate that "discovered" them. That is a very serious allegation that makes the peer review system irrelevant if it is true. Peer review is not a perfect system. It is good, but it is susceptible to problems. Astrophysicists have been interpreting all of their observations through the traditional paradigms for decades now. There is no grant yet, as far as I know, for the theory that proves that the last 50 years have been a huge waste. I'd love to get awarded that grant, but I have a feeling that I shouldn't waste my time.

Re:Another week, Another Space Anomaly (1)

Sciros (986030) | more than 7 years ago | (#17466440)

Actually it's not a *theory* as far as the scientific community is concerned. There isn't sufficient evidence, no peer review, etc. It seems to draw about as much concern from the scientific community as Creationism, if not less since it's nowhere near as prominent in the public eye. I hadn't even been exposed to it until now; just passing along what I gathered.

Re:Another week, Another Space Anomaly (1)

pln2bz (449850) | more than 7 years ago | (#17528244)

Peer review is meaningless if everybody in your field is operating on incorrect assumptions. And that's exactly what's happening right now within astrophysics. Some time ago, a man named Hannes Alfven, who is today considered the father of plasma physics, founded the field of magnetohydrodynamics. This field treats plasma as a fluid and assumes that currents cannot flow through the plasma because it treats plasma as an ideal conductor with no resistance. This is actually not *anything* like the way that plasma operates in the real world, and since plasma represents 99%+ of all observable matter within the universe, this massively incorrect assumption yields absurd results in astrophysics today. Plasma is in fact electrically conductive and its electrical properties interact with its mechanical motions, and vice-versa. If you've ever seen a novelty plasma globe, then you intuitively know that plasma is not like a fluid. You can tell by looking closely at a plasma globe that the plasma creates filaments and these filaments pair up and twist around one another. These twisting currents are called Birkeland Currents. As the current flow increases through them, they pinch together with increasing force and this pinching action can actually condense matter into a ball. When Hannes Alfven received his nobel prize for plasma physics in the 70's, he recused himself from the field that he created (magnetohydrodynamics) and warned astrophysicists to abandon it, and that the path they were taking would eventually dead-end. But they completely ignored him and continue to do so.

This is how we end up with terms like "solar wind" -- which is more properly identified as plasma coming from the Sun operating under the influence of the Sun's weak electric field that fills all of the heliosphere, which extends out beyond Pluto. If you can only think in terms of fluids and gravity, then movement of particles in space would look to you like a "wind". But where have we ever seen winds that steadily increase in velocity for millions of miles as the solar wind does? It's *still* accelerating as it moves past the Earth. What can possibly cause that? There is nothing about fluids or gravity that can cause that. In order to explain that, you *must* resort to electrical concepts. It's a stark reminder that our earlier astrophysical assumptions have led us astray.

It's that simple. Electric Universe, the supposed pseudoscience, uses non-idealized plasma physics to understand the universe (plasma cosmology). Traditional astrophysics, the collection of "real" sciences, ignores the possibility that electricity might be flowing over plasma in space because of their earlier assumptions about plasma being a *fluid* with ideal conductivity, and this inherited notion that gravity is the strongest force within the universe. One would expect that astrophysicists would fully understand plasma physics and electrodynamics, but they're taught in school that these things are much less important than gravity, and it appears that they are given nothing more than this "crash course" of magnetohydrodynamics as a substitute. This is in spite of the fact that we now know that electrically conductive plasma fills nearly all of space.

There actually is plenty of evidence for EU Theory. The real problem is that once you are branded as pseudoscience, then nobody will take you seriously. In fact, for every silly notion like black holes, neutron stars, dark matter, dark energy, etc, etc, etc, there is a corresponding simple electrical explanation. Let's look at pulsars and neutron stars, for instance. They have been observed now to "spin" at something like 300 revolutions per second, and people just accept this concept that a star can spin at 300 revolutions per second as if it doesn't bother them at all. But it's ludicrous to start with, and if you actually look at images of the Vela Pulsar, you'll notice that you are seeing filaments coming out of it that look a hell of a lot like sparks (http://www.thunderbolts.info/tpod/2004/arch/04092 0pulsar.htm [thunderbolts.info] ). And this would make a lot more sense. It's a lot easier to generate bursts of light that fast with sparks than with rotating bodies. The Vela Pulsar has been observed to glitch with its bursting, which would be unusual for a rotating body. Pulsars are oftentimes noticed to actually be *binary* star systems, which would make sense if it was two bodies that were sparking with one another (it's called a relaxation oscillator in electrical engineering). And the bursting properties for the light emitted by pulsars appears to correspond quite nicely with lightning strikes (http://www.thunderbolts.info/tpod/2005/arch05/050 527variablexray.htm [thunderbolts.info] ).

There is in fact a lot of evidentiary support for EU Theory. You can find plenty more at www.thunderbolts.info. You, and many others, are just not aware of the evidence because it is not currently a popular theory. That doesn't mean that it's not the *better* theory.

How do they know? (3, Insightful)

lazlo (15906) | more than 7 years ago | (#17463678)

OK, so this is calling into question one of the "standard candles" of astronomy and cosmology. But I'm curious exactly how? There's a fairly simple formula that relates absolute magnitude, relative magnitude, and distance. If you know any two, you can calculate the third. The whole concept of standard candles is that there are some events for which we know the absolute magnitude. This article is saying this is one of the standard candle events, but much brighter than ever before. The big question for me is, how do they know it's not just closer than ever before? My understanding is that the standard candle equations are the only way to determine distance at these ranges.

Re:How do they know? (1)

Bemopolis (698691) | more than 7 years ago | (#17464126)

The article doesn't explain, so I can only speak generally (albeit professionally). It is possible that they have two of the three data points you mention; namely, apparent magnitude and a distance estimate for the parent galaxy. (There are a few ways to get good distance estimates without using the supernova as a standard candle; e.g., the galaxy is part of a cluster for which a reasonably good distance estimate exists.) From those they derive the unusual absolute magnitude. Which really shouldn't be a surprise because of the presence of hydrogen lines; without going into too much detail, this means that the idea that every type Ia supernovae follows exactly the same scenario (a single white dwarf exploding because it was edged over the mass limit of white dwarfs) is wrong, in at least a few cases.

Re:How do they know? (1)

StupendousMan (69768) | more than 7 years ago | (#17464270)

The distance to the event can be estimated using its redshift; the redshift of the supernova itself, and/or the redshift of its host galaxy. For objects which are more distant than the Virgo Cluster (roughly), the redshift and Hubble's Law provide a very good _relative_ distance estimate. Using the redshift of this event, and the redshifts of other supernovae, we can see very clearly that this event is more luminous than the usual supernova, even if we don't have the _absolute_ distance.

You _can_ argue that this event has the usual luminosity of a Type Ia supernova, and that its distance is much smaller than inferred from its redshift; but that turns out to make the galaxy and its surroundings appear very peculiar, in several different ways. It is simpler to conclude that the supernova is the only unusual phenomenon in this case.

 

Re:How do they know? (1)

lazlo (15906) | more than 7 years ago | (#17464438)

That makes sense... I would say the alternative hypothesis would be that a solitary intergalactic binary star system went nova while traveling at a vector whose away-from-the-earth component approximated the redshift of the galaxy behind it. I can certainly see why that would be considered a bit of an unlikely event. I think the "colliding stars" theory is probably more likely.

Re:How do they know? (1)

cheekyboy (598084) | more than 7 years ago | (#17471624)

Until they decide to have two good space based telescopes at opposite sides of their orbits, say 300million km wide. Or better yet. Earth orbit, and Jupiter orbit scope.

Re:How do they know? (1)

Breakfast Pants (323698) | more than 7 years ago | (#17493918)

Until they decide to have two good space based telescopes at opposite sides of their orbits,

Huh? Take a picture. Wait 180 days. Take a picture. Bingo. (err.. guess it won't work for supernova)

How about white on black? (2, Informative)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 7 years ago | (#17466184)

Inversing the colors provides a more lifelike image. For the lazy. [imageshack.us]
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