Egg Nebula
© Charles Chandler
The Egg Nebula appears to be a dusty plasma filament caught in the act of resolving into a "natural tokamak" (NT). (See Figure 1 and Figure 2.) As such, it makes an excellent case study. Its current condition corresponds to panels 3~5 in Figure 3. Note that we're looking at the Egg Nebula along the plane of rotation, instead of along the axis of rotation shown in Figure 3.
Figure 1. Egg Nebula (CRL 2688) courtesy Hubble. The false colors denote the polarization of the particles emitting the photons.
Figure 2. The Egg Nebula (CRL 2688) in true colors, courtesy Hubble.
Figure 4. Overlapping waves from two sources.
  • The spherical ejecta are from the initial impact, as in panel 3 of Figure 3.
    • The shock waves are somewhat irregular because there were two origins, instead of just one. (See Figure 4.) So what we're seeing is the ejecta from two separate collisions of filaments.
    • The shock waves that were generated the earliest, and which are only made visible by the lighthouse beams in Figure 1, were considerably thinner than later waves. This is consistent with the collision of two opposing streams, where the density of the ejecta is a function of the degree of overlap between the streams.
    • The thinner ejecta on the equatorial plane are to be expected, since there are two sources, and the one blocked the ejecta from the other.
      • This thinness cannot be attributed just to proximity to the lighthouse beams, since there is no gradient in luminosity near them.
      • This could also be explained by the presence of an accretion disc, but that's dismissed below.
    • The polarization of particles evident in Figure 1 is consistent with the inverted mirroring of charges in Figure 3, and which isn't addressed by other models.
    • While the inflowing dusty plasma is primarily H2, the spherical ejecta are dominated by carbon and oxygen, meaning that the central star is fusing hydrogen into heavier elements.
      • This is consistent with nuclear fusion in the counter-streaming implosions.
      • Fusion by-products getting ejected above the gravitational escape velocity is not consistent with fusion due to gravitational loading deep inside a heavy star, since the overlying material that supplies the pressure always blocks the ejecta.
  • The inflowing dusty plasma itself is visible on the near side (almost vertical in Figure 1, but at a 45° angle in Figure 2), which shows the ragged tail of the filament at the upper left, and organized arc structures (especially in other wavelengths1:L164) at the lower right.
    • This is consistent with a filament spiraling toward the center, from the upper left to the lower right, before wrapping around behind the center (out of our sight).
    • It is not consistent with an accretion disc, which would be curved on both limbs.
  • The bipolar jets have just begun to erupt, and are in the process of merging together, but are still distinct streams. Thus this stage in the process is like panel 5 in Figure 3, since bipolar jets require annular explosions, but the charge streams haven't resolved into a single continuous toroid yet. Note that the jets themselves are just the fiery solid bodies, while the luminous channels defining the greatest extents of the "nebula" in Figure 1 are lighthouse beams.
    • The beams have been explained as the consequence of a single light source being surrounded by an optically thick "cocoon", which has four holes in it (two on each side).1:L163,2:Fig5 But this doesn't explain:
      • why the cocoon would have exactly two holes on each side, that happened to be perfectly opposite from the holes on the other side, and
      • what kind of cocoon could resist the force of the bipolar jets.
    • In the NT model, light generated within the jets is focused into beams due to the deflection of photons toward greater densities, which in this case is toward the axes of the jets.
  • The spherical ejecta are expanding at 20 km/s,3:26 and have travelled farther, while the smaller bipolar jets are expanding at ~300 km/s,1:L164,3 proving that the spherical ejecta started first, with the bipolar jets being proof of the development of a fundamentally different structure, which can only be annular.
Thus every aspect of the Egg Nebula is within the scope of the NT model, and there isn't any necessary component of the model that is not present.
The NT model also generalizes easily to explain related star types, such as black holes, neutron stars, pulsars, magnetars, quasars, blazars, BL Lac objects, and white dwarfs. All of these star types have overlapping properties, including bipolar jets, extremely powerful magnetic fields, and non-blackbody emissions, including extreme UV radiation such as gamma rays. This is consistent with recent research that has found new parallels between the behavior of white dwarfs and black holes,4 and among black holes, blazars, quasars, and gamma-ray bursters.5 The differences among them come down to variances in the balance of forces in the same general model.
Note that as NTs, fusing lighter elements into heavier ones, and since heavier elements are harder to accelerate out of the tokamak (for inertial, electric, and magnetic reasons), we can expect an accumulation of heavy elements, up to iron, within the tokamak. And heavier elements at high temperatures are near perfect conductors. So the electrical resistance will be extremely slight, and the counter-streaming positive and negative charges will continue for a long time. Thus long-lived stellar toroidal plasmoids are possible, even if the only energy store is counter-streaming angular momentum from the original implosion.
All other factors being the same, such stars will slowly get dimmer, and eventually fade from our view. As described near the end of the Filaments section, electrical resistance will eventually eliminate the relative motion between positive and negative charges within the annulus. When this happens, all of the +ions will take up free electrons, emitting their last gasp of EM radiation before going dark. With all of the ions neutralized, there will be no "like-likes-like" force generating any tensile strength within the annulus, and there will be no net magnetic pinch to keep the annulus organized. The heavy elements will then get flung outward by centrifugal forces far too powerful for gravity to contain, and that will be the end of it. Other factors that might come into play are considered in the section on Supernovae.


1. Sahai, R. et al. (1998): The Structure of the Prototype Bipolar Protoplanetary Nebula CRL 2688 (Egg Nebula): Broadband, Polarimetric, and H2 Line Imaging with NICMOS on the Hubble Space Telescope. The Astrophysical Journal Letters, 492 (2): L163-L167

2. Sahai, R. et al. (1998): Imaging of the Egg Nebula (CRL 2688) with WFPC2/HST: A History of AGB/Post-AGB Giant Branch Mass Loss. Astrophysical Journal, 493: 301-311

3. Balick, B. et al. (2011): The Illumination and Growth of CRL 2688: An Analysis of New & Archival HST Observations.

4. Li, K. L. et al. (2012): A Luminous Be+White Dwarf Supersoft Source in the Wing of the SMC: MAXI J0158-744. arxiv, 1207.5023

5. Nemmen, R. S. et al. (2012): A Universal Scaling for the Energetics of Relativistic Jets from Black Hole Systems. Science, 338 (6113): 1445-1448

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