Science in Society Archive

Supermagnetic Field or ‘Supermassive Black Hole’

Huge magnetic fields in a quasar where a ‘supermassive black hole’ is supposed to be gives the lie to Big Bang theory and strong support instead for the Electric Plasma Universe Dr. Mae-Wan Ho

Artist’s impression of a supermassive black hole

Black holes and gravitational waves, do they really exist?

In accordance with the prevailing Big Bang Theory of cosmology based on gravity and Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity, and as ‘proven’ by the powerful Hubble space telescope, a supermassive black hole is at the centre of most if not all large galaxies [1]. Quasars - extremely bright energetic objects once thought to be star-like - are also found at the centre of galaxies, and ‘most scientists’ believe that quasars are powered by the supermassive black holes.

Note that black holes by definition cannot be seen, they are ‘so dense, and with so much mass, that even light cannot escape their gravity.’ But the Hubble made it possible to see the ‘effects of the gravitational attraction’ of black holes on their surroundings. In other words, the observation of black holes is at best indirect, based on what a black hole might do to its environment, and indeed, proposed in order to ‘explain’ the observations.

A University of Illinois archive states [2]: “For example, if gas from a nearby star were sucked towards the black hole, the intense gravitational energy would heat the gas to millions of degrees. The resulting X-ray emissions could point to the presence of the black hole.” However, it admits that “such evidence remains indirect and therefore inconclusive. To confirm that black holes actually exist, we’ll need to be able to observe the gravitational waves they produce as they form or interact [with nearby matter].”

Gravitational waves were also predicted by Einstein’s theory of general relativity in 1916. Now, nearly a century later, no gravitational waves have ever been detected and not for want of trying; the latest attempt involving 900 scientists was announced February 2015, promising results by January 2017 [3].

Despite the lack of evidence, most cosmologists are adamant that black holes actually exist, and are exceptionally hostile to any other explanation; for example, the possibility that the highly energetic effects attributed to black holes may be due to electric and magnetic forces as proposed in the theory of the Plasma Universe, or Electric Universe, which can much better explain the avalanche of ‘surprises’ (to Big Bang theory) from increasingly detailed astronomical observations in the entire range of the electromagnetic spectrum (see [4] Continuous Creation from Electric Plasma versus Big Bang Universe, SiS 60).

The newly discovered supermagnetic field where a supermassive black hole is supposed to reside [5, 6] is the strongest evidence yet in favour of the Electric Plasma Universe. It is not the first discovery of strong magnetic fields at the centre of galaxies, although at 200 million Gauss, it qualifies as the biggest one discovered so far.

Magnetic fields (up to hundreds of Gauss) have been measured/estimated recently ‘around the supermassive black hole’ at the centre of our own galaxy, the Milky Way [7]. Even more tellingly, a strong magnetic field of hundreds of Gauss has been mapped to ‘the jet at the base of a supermassive black hole of a distant active galactic nucleus, PKS 1830-211 [8].

Supermagnetic field discovered near supermassive black hole

The team led by Wolfram Kollaschny at the Institute for Astrophysics of Göttingen University in Germany have found supermagnetic fields ~200 million Gauss close to the supermassive black hole of the quasar PG0043+039 [5, 6]. Active galactic nuclei (AGN) and quasars emit enormous amounts of light at all frequencies ranging from the radio to the X-ray. PG0043+039 (redshift z = 0.38512, see Box 1) is unusual in that it emits very weakly in the X-ray.

Box 1

Cosmological red shift and distance (reproduced from [9] Galaxy Making Stars at the Edge of the Universe and Other "Surprises", SiS 60)

To work out the distance of galaxies, especially those really far away, astronomers use spectroscopy, a technique for analysing the light emitted or absorbed into narrow spectral bands or lines, and look at how much the galaxy’s light has shifted towards the red, i.e., increased in wavelength. Among the most precise markers for red shift is the Lyman-a line, emitted or absorbed by the hydrogen atom when its electron moves between the first excited and the ground state. In the laboratory (a ‘resting’ frame as far as Earthbound observers are concerned), this line (lrest) appears at 121.6 nm in the far ultraviolet part of the electromagnetic spectrum. For light coming from astronomical objects, the line is shifted to longer wavelengths (lob), and this shift is attributed to the expansion of the universe (hence the object moving away from Earth) according to Big Bang theory. The redshift z is the increase in wavelength relative to the rest wavelength.

z = (loblrest)/ lrest                                                                            (1)

Thus, a redshift of 7 (7-fold excess) would mean that the normal rest wavelength is shifted into the infrared region, i.e., 972.8 nm.  From the red shift, it is possible to work out the distance of the object as well as the time relative to the present at which the light was emitted. This depends on a proportionality relationship known as Hubble’s Law between distance and the redshift.

The assumption that redshift represents cosmological distance, especially in cases of redshift values > 0.3 has been strongly disputed, as Hubble’s relationship is only linear below a redshift of 0.1.

Thanks to the Hubble telescope, the researchers were able to observe the quasar PG0043+039 in ultraviolet (UV), where spectroscopic lines unknown to date were identified, which they attributed to cyclotron lines. “Cyclotron lines are produced by electrons that take on spiral trajectories around the field lines of very strong magnetic fields,” explains Kollatschny. In addition to the Hubble, the team used giant optical land-based telescopes in Texas, USA, and South Africa, and the largest X-ray satellite of the European Space Agency, ESA XMM-Newton, which they focussed onto the quasar for ten hours.

In Big Bang cosmology, it is supposed that in quasars and active galactic nuclei at the centre of galaxies matter is subjected to extreme acceleration and heat as it is falling into the centre of the supermassive black hole (see above). This produces extreme luminosity in the immediate surroundings of the black hole, the radiation normally coming in all frequency ranges from radio to X-rays. The matter that disappears into the black hole is never seen again ‘except for some of it that’s catapulted into space in jets’ [5] (how that’s supposed to happen when nothing can escape from the black hole is not clear).

In PG0043+039, the supermassive black hole and super strong magnetic field are “in direct proximity”, according to the researchers.

Unusual bumps in the UV emission lines

Besides known emission lines such as the Lya (hydrogen atom) and OVI (oxygen) l1038, broad line humps  (line widths ~ 10 000 km s-1) with shapes different from those of normal emissions can be seen in the UV spectrum. These were assigned to cyclotron emission lines. This is by no means the first time that cyclotron emission lines have been observed. Cyclotron emission lines have been established in the UV, optical, and infrared spectra of AM Herculis stars that belong to a unique class of ‘cataclysmic variable stars’ in which the magnetic field of the primary star, a white dwarf, completely dominates the accretion flow of the system. Typical magnetic field strengths are 3-15 x 107 G (Gauss) in the inner magnetic accretion regions. (For comparison, Earth’s magnetic field is ~0.5 G.) In the standard model for accretion onto a magnetic white dwarf, an adiabatic (process without heat exchange) standing ‘shock wave’ forms in the accretion column above the surface of the white dwarf at high supersonic speeds. In the ‘shock’ region, the kinetic energy is transformed into thermal energy and the matter is slowed down into a subsonic settling flow. During this process, the matter in the settling flow is heated to a shock temperature of 108-109 K. The hot matter in the settling flow is then cooled down by thermal radiation and/or cyclotron radiation in the UV to near IR range.             

Magnetohydrodynamical ‘shock’ formation is thought to be possible, for example, in equatorial/non-equatorial plasma flows close to the black-hole event horizon (where nothing, no light nor matter, can return). Shocks in these plasmas might be responsible for creating very hot T ~ 109 K and/or strongly magnetized plasma regions. These shocks could be the origin of cyclotron radiation similar to the origin of cyclotron radiation connected to shocks in CV (cataclysmic variable) stars, a binary with one white dwarf (primary) and a mass transferring secondary (see above).

The researchers used a program originally developed for cyclotron radiation emitted from standing shocks above accreting magnetic white dwarfs with the dimensionless parameter l = 4penel/B, where ne is the electron density and l the size of the line emitting region. It is interesting that they needed two cyclotron systems called A and B for modelling the UV emission humps (see below).

The best fit to the observations yields plasma temperatures of T = 3.8 keV for system (A) (T ≈ 4 × 107 K) and T = 1.9 keV for system (B) (T≈ 2 × 107 K); the corresponding field strengths of B = 1.95 ×108 G for (A) and 1.45 ×108 G for (B) with log L values of 4 and 7 respectively. This corresponds to line emitting region sizes of 1015 - 1018 cm2 for assumed density values of ne = 1015 cm3.

Cyclotron emissions from strong magnetic fields generated by galaxy formation in the Plasma Universe

The researchers may have found the right answers for the magnitude of the magnetic fields, but the explanation is far from satisfactory. Cyclotron lines are emitted by non-relativistic (velocity not a significant proportion of the speed of light) electrons in strong magnetic fields; that is generally accepted. Cyclotron emission occurs at the fundamental frequency wcyc = eB/mec and its higher harmonics nwcyc, where B is the magnetic field strength and e and me are charge and mass of the electron. But where does the magnetic field come from? How does a black hole create a magnetic field?

In the Plasma Universe, the electrons involved are in plasma currents flowing in spiral paths along the magnetic field generated, instead of being orthogonal to it, in field-aligned currents (FACs), also called Birkeland currents after Norwegian scientist Kristian Birkeland (1867-1817) who proposed that atmospheric electric plasma currents were responsible for the aurora borealis (northern lights).

Swedish Nobel laureate astrophysicist Hannes Alfvén (1908-1995) was a leading proponent of the idea that the universe is created out of plasma clouds that make up more than 99.9 % of the universe as they generate and respond collectively to electromagnetic fields (see [4]). Alfvén was the first to point out that electrons accelerated in spiral paths along FACs especially by electric double layers (of separated positive and negative charges) would be expected to emit cyclotron radiation in all frequencies from radio waves to X-rays.

Plasma FACs can be any size from millimetres and centimetres in the laboratory to hundreds of metres and kilometres in Earth’s aurora, to parsecs (1 parsec =3.08567758 × 1016 metres) and Mparsecs at interstellar and galactic dimensions. The beauty of such plasma currents is that they behave in self-similar fashion over all scales, as characteristic of fractal processes (with dimensions between the whole numbers 1, 2, 3, or 4). In that way, results in the laboratory and indeed from planetary observations on Earth can be extrapolated to galactic and intergalactic domains.  

American plasma and nuclear physicist Anthony Peratt now at Los Alamos National Laboratory, New Mexico,  proposed that galaxy-formation involves the interaction of 2 to 3 FACs (some 35 – 50 Mparsecs in diameter, and on average 350 Mparsec long) that attract each other to form a centre (galactic nucleus) around which the galaxy arms (the rest of the FACs) spiral. Computer simulations showed that the evolving galaxy changes in morphology and emissions, depending on the state of two interacting FACs. It begins with radio and microwave emissions when they are still some distance apart, progressing to the infrared, visual, UV and X-rays, as they come closer and closer together and coalesce after hundreds of million-years. The mutual excitation of the currents increases, generating ever stronger magnetic fields (see [4]) that ‘pinch’ the plasma so strongly that matter can be ejected in long jets. The centre or nucleus of a galaxy is indeed a very strong magnetic field that can account for all the observations without the need of a ‘supermassive black hole’.

It is interesting that the Göttingen University research team found it necessary to fit the data to two systems, A and B [6], perhaps belonging to two different FACs that have come together to form the quasar. The fact that PG0043+039 emits weakly in the X-ray region may be an indication that it is still a young galaxy.

In the Electric Plasma Universe, therefore, black holes are redundant, as gigantic plasma FACs are responsible for generating both the strong magnetic fields and also for the concentration or accretion of matter (see [4]).

Most recently, regular magnetic fields much weaker in strength (less than a microGauss to tens of microGauss) have been measured between the arms of spiral galaxies [10, 11]. Astronomers carrying out a detailed multi-telescope study of a nearby galaxy IC 342 discovered a magnetic field coiled around the galaxy’s main spiral arm (Figure 1). The study, they claim, shows how “gas can be funnelled inward toward the galaxy’s center, which possibly hosts a black hole.”

Figure 1    Magnetic fields wrapping around spiral arms of galaxy IC342

“This study helps resolve some major questions about how galaxies form and evolve”, said Rainer Beck of the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, who led the study [11]. “Spiral arms can hardly be formed by gravitational force alone. This new IC 342 image indicates that magnetic fields also play an important role in forming spiral arms.”

Although Beck has acknowledged the role of magnetic fields in the formation of galaxies, his interpretation falls short of the prediction from the Plasma Universe. The spiral arms are the original FACs that joined up to form the galaxy, thus, there is no need to account for their existence independently. Furthermore, their role is not to funnel matter “towards the centre of the galaxy”. The accretion of matter occurs throughout the entire FAC to form stars and planets, and the matter is accreted precisely to where the magnetic field spiralling around the electric current goes through its minima as it cyclically reverses direction, as predicted from a quantitative model of the FAC (Birkeland current) by retired electrical engineer and leading proponent of the Electric Universe Donald Scott at University of Massachusetts, Amherst [12].

To conclude

Supermagnetic fields at centres of galaxies and quasars are a direct consequence of galaxy formation via the interaction of gigantic field-aligned plasma currents. These supermagnetic fields account for all the emissions observed as well as for the morphologies of the galaxies and other energetic phenomena without the need of post hoc ‘explanations’ in terms of supermassive black holes and other hypothetical unobserved and unobservable entities.

Article first published 05/08/15


  1. Black holes, quasars and active galaxies, Hubble space telescope, accessed 10 July 2015,
  2. How can we see black holes? University of Illinois archive, 29 August 1995,
  3. “The hunt for gravitational waves could be nearing success”, Stuart Clark, The Guardian, 12 February 2015,
  4. Ho MW. Continuous creation from electric plasma versus Big Bang Universe. Science in Society 60, 20-25, 2013.
  5. “Are supermagnetic fields competing companions of black holes? Astrophysicists at Gottingen detect mega-magnetic field”,, Translated and adapted by Anne-Marie de Grazia, from University of Gottingen press release  26 April 20155,
  6. Kollatschny W, Schartel N, Zetzl M, SantosLleo M, Rodriguez-Pascual PM and Ballo L. Proving Strong magnetic field near to the central black hole in the quasar PG0043+039 via cyclotron lines Astronomy & Astrophysics 2015, 577, L1 (4pp).
  7. Eatough RP, Falcke N, Karuppusamy R et al. A strong magnetic field around the supermassive black hole at the centre of the Galaxy. Nature 2013, 501, 391-4.
  8. Martí-Vidal I, Muller S, Vlemmings W, Horellou C and Aalta S.  A strong magnetic field in the jet base of a supermassive black hole. Science 2015, 348, 311-4.
  9. Ho MW. Galaxy making stars at the edge of the universe and other “surprises”. Science in Society 60, 16-19, 2013.
  10. Beck R. Magnetic fields in the nearby spiral galaxy IC 342: A multi-frequency radio polarization study. Astronomy & Astrophysics 2015, 578, A93 (27 pages)
  11. “Magnetic field discovery gives clues to galaxy-formation processes, multi-telescope study reveals details of galaxy’s magnetic structure” ScienceDaily, National Radio Astronomy Observatory, 18 June 2015,
  12. Scott DE. Birkeland currents: a force-free field-aligned model. Progress in Physics 2015, 11, 167-79.

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There are 3 comments on this article so far. Add your comment above.

E S. Ndlovu Comment left 5th August 2015 17:05:58
Awesome news, Big Bang never sounded right to me.

J.A. Winfield,MD.PhD. Comment left 5th August 2015 20:08:36
" ....without the need of post hoc ‘explanations’ in terms of supermassive black holes and other hypothetical unobserved and unobservable entities. " Nicely nails it reference the Big Bang Theory. The entire field of Astrophysics is simply mind boggaling. I always find it fascinating how scientists/astronomers from over 200 yrs. ago made major theoretical calculations upon which subsequent theories have been based. It does create , as certain as the Theory of Relativity, a potential "house of cards !' As always another great I-SSI article. Thanks for the cerebral stimulation this morning ! J.A.Winfield, MD.PhD.

Todd Millions Comment left 6th August 2015 06:06:47
Its going too take a while too digest this.I'll savor it. In the main time-If you are doing any video presentations on it,I know just the sound track but I'm unable too track it down. Late 1970's advertising 45 record in I think Guitar World. It demonstrated keyboard and other sound effects off string interments that sounded very compelling and strange.The unit was called an -ARP guitar synthesizer.Some outlier astronomer developed it.

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