J. Marvin Herndon's Structure of Galaxies
“The treasures hidden in the heavens are so rich that the human mind shall never be lacking in fresh nourishment.” – Johannes Kepler (1571-1630)

Since the dawn of mankind, the night sky, dotted with its myriad starry points of light, has evoked profound human wonderment about ourselves, our origin and spiritual nature, and about those mysterious objects in the heavens. Human superlatives are inadequate to express the breathtaking grandeur of the starry panoply, coupled with the realization that billions of stars combine to form a single, gravitationally bound galaxy, and that there may be more than 100 billion galaxies in the observable universe.

Ours is a time of unparalleled richness in astronomical observations, but understanding seems to be absent throughout broad areas of astrophysics. In its place astrophysicists make models based upon assumptions. Galaxies, with their diversity of luminous structures, are wholly inexplicable from that approach.

Rather than making models, a different methodology is employed here, which has been described by J. Marvin Herndon [1]. First, important observations pertaining to galaxies and galactic structures are presented. Next, Herndon’s concept of the thermonuclear ignition of stars is presented and contrasted to the prevailing, popular idea which had its origins in the 1930s. Then, seemingly unrelated observations are placed into a logical sequence so that causal relationships become evident, making sense of the diversity of galactic structures, and pointing the way for future discoveries and advances in thinking.

Galaxy Observations

A galaxy is usually thought of as being comprised of billions of luminous stars, sometimes as many a trillion stars, gravitationally bound into the well-known, starfish-like spiral morphology or the barred spiral morphology. Anomalous forms occur as well.

In addition to the luminous stars, there is an unseen, non-luminous “dark matter” component that is thought to exist as well. The spiral morphology of a rotating galaxy is dynamically unstable. For the spiral to be stable, astronomers have deduced the necessity of an invisible spherical “halo” 10 or more times as massive as the luminous stars of the galaxy [2]. This dark matter halo is illustrated at right schematically in red.

Little is known about what takes place at the center of the galaxy, where stars converge to form a massive galactic-core, except that highly energetic events occur, including the ejection of matter in the form of jets, either single jets, or bi-polar jets. Such jets have been observed to have lengths ranging from 4,000 light years to 865,000 light years, as shown in the Hubble Space Telescope images to the left.

Thermonuclear Ignition of Stars

By mid-1938, the thermonuclear reactions thought to power stars were reasonably well understood [3]. Those reactions are called “thermonuclear” because temperatures on the order of a million degrees Celsius are required for ignition. At the time it was assumed that million-degree temperatures would be attained as a consequence of the gravitational collapse of dust and gas during star formation; in mid-1938, no other energy source for that purpose was known; nuclear fission had not yet been discovered.

That concept of stellar ignition has persisted to the present, although clearly there were indications of a problem. In 1965, Hayashi and Nakano from their calculations realized that thermonuclear ignition temperatures of a million degrees Celsius would not be attained during stellar formation [4]. The reason for the difficulty in attaining million-degree temperatures is that heating produced by the in-fall of dust and gas is off-set by radiation from the surface, which is a function of the fourth power of temperature; in other words, T×T×T×T, which for T=1,000,000 degrees is a huge loss-factor. Rather than questioning the underlying astrophysical assumptions, for more than four decades astrophysicists just tweaked their modeling parameters, such as opacity and formation rate or added additional ad hoc hypotheses, such as a shock-wave induced sudden flare-up [5, 6]. The implication, (wrongly) assumed for more than 80 years, is that stars automatically ignite during their formation.

In December 1938, nuclear fission was discovered [7]. Then, nuclear fission chain reactions were discovered, and proven capable of powering atomic bombs (A-bombs) and proven capable of igniting hydrogen bombs (H-bombs), thermonuclear fusion bombs. Every thermonuclear fusion H-bomb is ignited by its own nuclear fission A-bomb, and every H-bomb detonation, such as the photo at left, is an experimental verification that nuclear fission chain reactions can ignite thermonuclear fusion reactions. In a paper published in 1994 in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, J. Marvin Herndon suggested that stars, like H-bombs, are ignited by nuclear fission chain reactions [8].

There is a profound and fundamental difference between stellar thermonuclear ignition by nuclear fission, as suggested by Herndon [8], and the previous idea, which had its beginnings before nuclear fission was discovered. With the pre-1938 idea, which continues to the present, the implicit assumption is that stars automatically ignite as a consequence of the heat produced through the in-fall of dust and gas during formation. Herndon’s concept of stellar thermonuclear ignition by nuclear fission, on the other hand, leads to the possibility of stellar non-ignition, to dark stars, which will remain dark stars unless and until seeded with fissionable elements.

Half a century ago, Burbidge, Burbidge, Fowler and Hoyle set forth the basis for thinking that the chemical elements are synthesized in stars, with the heavy elements being formed by rapid neutron capture in the supernova phase at the end of a star’s life [9]; there may be another explanation. The conditions and circumstances at galactic centers appear to harbor the necessary pressures for producing highly dense nuclear matter and the means to jet that nuclear matter out into the galaxy where, according to Herndon [1, 10], the galactic jet seeds dark stars which it encounters with fissionable elements, turning dark stars into luminous stars.

Origin of Galactic Luminous Star Distributions

Consider a more-or-less spherical, gravitationally bound assemblage of dark (Population III) stars, a not-yet-ignited dark galaxy. Now, consider the galactic nucleus as it becomes massive and shoots its first jet of nuclear matter into the galaxy of dark stars, igniting those stars which it contacts. How might such a galaxy at that point appear? According to J. Marvin Herndon [1], it would appear quite similar to NGC4676, pictured at a)left, or to NGC10214, pictured at b)left.

The arms of spiral galaxies, such as M101, pictured at c)left, and the bars which often occur in disc galaxies [11], such as in NGC1300, pictured at d)left, possess morphologies which Herndon suggests occur as a consequence of galactic jetting of fissionable elements into the galaxy of dark stars, seeding the dark stars encountered with fissionable elements, thus making possible ignition of thermonuclear fusion reactions.

The structures of just about all luminous galaxies appear to have the jet-like luminous-star features, the imprint of the galactic jets which gave rise to their ignition, the imprint of the distribution of fissionable, heavy element seeds. Therein is the commonality connecting the diverse range of galactic observed structures and the causal relationship which appears to exist.

And what of the dark matter necessary for dynamical stability? The dark matter is the spherical halo of un-ignited, dark stars, located just where it must be to impart rotational stability to the galactic luminous structure [2].

When scientific thinking is underlain by mistaken understanding, no further progress is possible. Really good scientists will understand that finding and righting underlying mistakes will inevitably open the door for new insights, new advances and important discoveries. J. Marvin Herndon has just parted the curtain a bit, providing potentially important new understanding while possibly showing the way for new insights, new advances and important discoveries to be made.

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1. Herndon, J. M., Maverick's Earth and Universe. 2008, Vancouver: Trafford Publishing. ISBN 978-1-4251-4132-5.
2. Rubin, V. C., The rotation of spiral galaxies. Science, 1983, 220, 1339-1344.
3. Bethe, H. A., Energy production in stars. Physical Review, 1939, 55(5), 434-456.
4. Hayashi, C. and Nakano, T, Thermal and dynamic properties of a protostar and its contraction to the stage of quasi-static equilibrium. Progress in Theoretical Physics, 1965, 35, 754-775.
5. Larson, R. B., Gravitational torques and star formation. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 1984, 206, 197-207.
6. Stahler, S. W., The early evolution of protostellar disks. Astrophysical Journal, 1994, 431, 341-358.
7. Hahn, O. and Strassmann, F., Uber den Nachweis und das Verhalten der bei der Bestrahlung des Urans mittels Neutronen entstehenden Erdalkalimetalle. Die Naturwissenschaften, 1939, 27, 11-15.
8. Herndon, J. M., Planetary and protostellar nuclear fission: Implications for planetary change, stellar ignition and dark matter. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, 1994, A455, 453-461. (click here for pdf)
9. Burbidge, E. M., et al., Synthesis of the elements in stars. Reviews of Modern Physics, 1957, 29(4), 547-650.
10. Herndon, J. M., New concept for internal heat production in hot Jupiter exo-planets, thermonuclear ignition of dark galaxies, and the basis for galactic luminous star distributions. Current Science, 2009, 96, 1453-1456. (click here for pdf)
11. Gadotti, D. A., Barred galaxies: an observer's prospective. arXiv:0802.0495, 2008.