by Stephen Smith
May 18, 2011
Asteroid 596 Scheila.
Credit: S. Larson and
(University of Arizona/Catalina Sky Survey)
Electric Universe, comets are
thought to be rocks moving rapidly through the Solar System's force
Comets are often called "dirty snowballs" by astronomers. However,
various investigative missions, such as
revealed them to be blackened, cratered, and fractured. No ice
fields, reflective crust, or watery clouds were observed.
spacecraft's close approach (below image) to Halley's comet discovered the
blackest object ever seen. The comet's energetic plumes blasted out
from a dense nucleus.
Comet Tempel 1 resembled an asteroid more than a chunk of muddy
Craters, boulders, and cliffs were observed - nothing like a
snowball venting. Water vapor was discovered near the comet, but
there was too little ice on the surface to account for it.
Other comets defy convention:
Shoemaker-Levy 9 exploded when it
encountered Jupiter's magnetosphere, and the pieces did not expel
the volatile compounds astronomers expected to see. Deep Space 1
comet Borrelly in 2001, finding it hot and dry instead of
cold and wet. The Stardust mission to comet Wild 2 found a great
deal of dust, but no trace of water could be found on its surface.
Comets travel through a differential electric potential as they move
toward the Sun. The variable electric fields cause visible glow
discharges. Rather than "dirty snowballs" or even "snowy dirtballs,"
comets are electrically active, solid bodies.
Comets form plasma sheaths that can become comas, often more than a
million kilometers in diameter. Plasma filaments connect comets with
the Sun's electric field, generating "hot spots" on their surfaces.
So hot that extreme ultraviolet light and X-rays were detected
According to a
recent press release, on December 11, 2010
596 Scheila became much brighter than previously observed, forming a
large C-shaped coma.
The Swift space-based observatory did not find
water vapor thought to be "normally" associated with comets.
Instead, two dusty plume-like tails trailed behind the asteroid,
subsequently fading over the next several months.
A Hubble Space Telescope image of 596 Scheila reveals a broad coma,
along with a dust tail.
As team leader David Jewett said:
Hubble data are most simply explained by the impact, at 11,000mph
[17,700 km/h] of a previously unknown asteroid about 100 feet [30 metres] in diameter.”
The primary reason for thinking that 596 Scheila is an asteroid and
not a comet is because there is no water vapor in its vicinity.
team investigating the Deep Impact mission to comet Tempel 1 claimed
that there was "lots of ice" ejected when the copper projectile hit
the comet's surface, so it was expected that 596 Scheila would also
have lots of ice if it was a comet.
However, Electric Universe advocate Wal
took issue with that presumption just after
"The flaw in the conventional
approach is that only gas-phase chemical reactions and reactions
induced by solar radiation (photolysis) are considered. The far
more energetic molecular and atomic reactions due to plasma
discharge sputtering of an electrically charged comet nucleus
are not even contemplated...
The hydroxyl radical, OH, is the
most abundant cometary radical... It is chiefly the presence of
this radical that leads to estimates of the amount of water ice
sublimating from the comet nucleus.
"The electric field near the comet nucleus is expected if a
comet is a highly negatively charged body, relative to the solar
wind...So the presence of negative oxygen and other ions close
to the comet nucleus is to be expected.
Negative oxygen ions
will be accelerated away from the comet in the cathode jets and
combine with protons from the solar wind to form the observed OH
radical at some distance from the nucleus. The important point
is that the OH does not need to come from water ice on, or in,
in a previous Picture of
the Day, there are several "Centaur objects" orbiting near the
asteroid belt that demonstrate that indeterminate state between
comet and asteroid.
2060 Chiron is classified as both comet
and asteroid. Chiron manifests a coma whenever it reaches its
closest approach to the Sun, although it does not grow a tail.
174P Echeclus displayed a coma in 2005, so it too is now classified as a
cometary asteroid. At least ten Centaurs are known to have cometary
activity at great heliocentric distance.
Proponents of mainstream viewpoints are slowly beginning to realize
that asteroids and comets exist in a continuum: neither are strictly
identical nor completely different from the other. When the Stardust
mission returned to Earth with samples from the coma of comet Wild
2, scientists found that the material looked more like meteoric dust
than what was expected from a dirty snowball.
Stardust also found that the coma of Wild 2 contained the
"signature" of water vapor, although the farther from the surface of
the comet it was, the greater the amount of vapor it saw.
Whatever water or hydroxyl compounds
found in cometary comas are probably created there, as Wal Thornhill
ionized oxygen from the comet reacts with hydrogen
ions streaming out from the Sun. No "jets" of water vapor spew from
comets, and no icy plains have ever been observed. It is electric
effects that are seen. Discharges and arcs form the comet
Exposing an asteroid to an intense electric field over time
most likely create a comet.