If you could describe the physical structure of a galaxy formed by Birkeland currents then would the twisting filamentary nature of galaxy NGC 4696 be a fascinating example of a Kristian Birkeland galaxy?
New observations from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope have revealed the intricate structure of the galaxy NGC 4696 in greater detail than ever before. The elliptical galaxy is a beautiful cosmic oddity with a bright core wrapped in system of dark, swirling, thread-like filaments.
NGC 4696 is a member of the Centaurus galaxy cluster, a swarm of hundreds of galaxies all sitting together …
Even if NGC 4696 keeps impressive company, it has a further distinction: the galaxy’s unique structure. Previous observations have revealed curling filaments that stretch out from its main body and carve out a cosmic question mark in the sky, the dark tendrils encircling a brightly glowing centre.
An international team of scientists, led by astronomers from the University of Cambridge, UK, have now used new observations from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope to explore this thread-like structure in more detail. They found that each of the dusty filaments has a width of about 200 light-years, and a density some 10 times greater than the surrounding gas. These filaments knit together and spiral inwards towards the centre of NGC 4696, connecting the galaxy’s constituent gas to its core …
At the very centre of the galaxy, the filaments loop and curl inwards in an intriguing spiral shape, swirling around the supermassive black hole at such a distance that they are dragged into and eventually consumed by the black hole itself.
Understanding more about filamentary galaxies such as NGC 4696 may help us to better understand why so many massive galaxies near to us in the Universe appear to be dead; rather than forming newborn stars from their vast reserves of gas and dust, they instead sit quietly, and are mostly populated with old and aging stars. This is the case with NGC 4696. It may be that the magnetic structure flowing throughout the galaxy stops the gas from creating new stars.
Tangled threads weave through cosmic oddity | Phys Org
Is NGC 4696 the brightest structure in its galaxy cluster because of the Birkeland filaments and what they represent?
NGC 4696 is an elliptical galaxy. It lies around 150 million light years away in the constellation Centaurus. It is the brightest galaxy in the Centaurus Cluster, a large, rich cluster of galaxies in the constellation of the same name. The galaxy is surrounded by many dwarf elliptical galaxies also located within the cluster.
NGC 4696 | wikipedia
What’s happening at the center of elliptical galaxy NGC 4696? There, long tendrils of gas and dust have been imaged in great detail as shown by this recently released image from the Hubble Space Telescope. These filaments appear to connect to the central region of the galaxy, a region thought occupied by a supermassive black hole. Speculation holds that this black hole pumps out energy that heats surrounding gas, pushes out cooler filaments of gas and dust, and shuts down star formation. Balanced by magnetic fields, these filaments then appear to spiral back in toward and eventually circle the central black hole.
NGC 4696: Filaments around a Black Hole | NASA
Surprisingly, NGC 4696 consists of mostly old or aging stars, even though it has a large reservoir of gas and dust that would otherwise give birth to new stars
What Tangled Web: Galaxy’s Messy ‘Threads’ Star in New Pic | Space
Birkeland’s plasma galaxy
According to astrophysicists, the filaments are examples of “ionized hydrogen”, or electric charge carriers. The hydrogen atom is composed of one electron and one proton, so ionization reduces it to individual nucleons. Since electricity is generated by charged particles in motion, the filaments are transmitting electromagnetic energy across vast distances. What holds these “transmission lines” together?
Since the hydrogen in NGC 4696 is ionized, it is defined as a plasma. In an Electric Universe, charge flow in plasma generates electromagnetic fields that constrict the current channel. Previous Picture of the Day articles point out that the constriction is known as a “Bennett pinch,” or “z-pinch.” Pinched electric filaments remain coherent over long distances because they wind around each other without coalescing, something like a twisted pair of electric wires.
NGC 4696 | Thunderbolts
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