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No. 35: Sep-Oct 1984

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Galactic radiation belt?

Both Jupiter and the earth boast radiation belts consisting of electrically charged particles tethered by the planet's magnetic fields. Recent radio astronomical studies of the Milky Way reveal long filaments of ionized gas about 150 light years long curving up out of the galactic disk, at a point about 30,000 light years from earth. These filaments emit radio energy just like the planetary radiation belts and are presumably held in the grip of a galactic magnetic field. There have been previ-ous hints of a weak and disorganized galactic magnetic field, but this is the first evidence for a strong polar field in our own Milky Way or any other galaxy.

The unexpected filaments were discovered by in a study of star formation in the core of the Milky Way. The radio energy emitted by the belts was originally thought to come from the galactic machinery that makes new stars; but now it looks like that machinery is not grinding out nearly as many new stars as once thought.

(Thompsen, D.E.; "Galactic Dynamoism: A Radiation Belt?" Science News, 126:20, 1984.)

From Science Frontiers #35, SEP-OCT 1984. 1984-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987