19 Jun 2010

At June 18th ... coming up to our July meeting on Wal Thornhill's theory of electricity in the universe we may note a paper published in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics concerns the discovery of a magnetic field at the surface of the supergiant star Betelgeuse. The rotation of stars like the Sun produces flows of ionised material in their inner layers - triggering a dynamo mechanism causing the generation of a magnetic field. Yet, even when the Sun is having a temporary respite in magnetic activity - such as the current lull in sun spots - the Sun still has a strong magnetic field. Why? The key to the enigma, we are informed, may be hidden in the supergiant stars. Betelgeuse, the paper claims, is a star nearing the end of its life, having the last remaining nucleur fuel at its disposal, and will in the fairly near future explode into a supernova. The rotation of Betelgeuse is very slow - a situation which is inadequate to allow for a dynamo effect, as observed. However, it is suggested the magnetic field is weak - or polarisation is weak. This is said to show that a fast rotation is not a neccessary requisite for the production of a magnetic field. Supergiant stars may have a trick up their sleeves - vigorous convective motions akin to a continuous boiling or agitation. This motion is therefore able to generate a magnetic field, it is concluded.