Plasma cosmology is a term describing a loose set of non-standard ideas about cosmology.[unreliable source?] Its central idea is that the dynamics of ionized gases (or plasmas) plays a decisive role in the physics of the universe at scales larger than the Solar system. Today, almost all cosmologists and astronomers are dismissive of the idea.[unreliable source?] The current consensus of astrophysicists is instead that Einstein's theory of general relativity, a theory of gravity, explains the structure and evolution of the universe on cosmic scales.
Some of the ideas of plasma cosmology are attributed to the 1970 Nobel laureate Hannes Alfvén. Alfvén proposed the use of plasma scaling to extrapolate the results of laboratory experiments and space plasma physics observations to scales orders-of-magnitude greater (see box). While it is widely agreed that plasma physics is essential to many astrophysical phenomena in the early universe and is still important today to phenomena up to the scale of the Solar system, plasma cosmology continues this extrapolation to the universe on the largest observable scales.
Astrophysical plasma 
In contrast to plasma cosmology, plasma physics is accepted uncontroversially as having great influence on many astrophysical phenomena. The majority of ordinary matter in the universe is in the form of plasma, and plasma is a good conductor of electricity. An important figure in this field was Hannes Alfvén, who devoted much of his professional career to investigating plasmas and was awarded the 1970 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on magnetohydrodynamics (MHD).
Alfvén's view was that plasma played an important role in the universe. He asserted that electromagnetic forces are far more important than gravity when acting on interplanetary and interstellar charged particles. Alfvén's worked to scale plasma theory from the laboratory to the magnetosphere.
Alfvén hypothesized that Birkeland currents (here meaning currents in space plasmas which are aligned with magnetic field lines) were responsible for many filamentary structures and that a galactic magnetic field and associated current sheet, with an estimated galactic current of 1017 to 1019 amperes, might promote the contraction of interstellar clouds and may even constitute the main mechanism for contraction, initiating star formation. This is in opposition to the standard view that magnetic fields can hinder collapse. However large-scale Birkeland currents have not been observed and the length scale for charge neutrality is predicted to be far smaller than the relevant cosmological scales.
Alfvén-Klein cosmology 
Plasma cosmology theory was being worked on in the 1960s by Alfvén, Oskar Klein and Carl-Gunne Fälthammar, and of particular importance was Alfvén's 1966 book Worlds-Antiworlds. During 1971, Klein extended Alfvén's Worlds-Antiworlds proposals and developed the "Alfvén-Klein model" of the universe, or meta-galaxy as they called it at the time (see the Shapley-Curtis debate for more on the history of distinguishing between the universe and the Milky Way galaxy). In this Alfvén-Klein cosmology (sometimes called Klein-Alfvén cosmology), the universe is made up of equal amounts of matter and antimatter with the boundaries between the regions of matter and antimatter being delineated by cosmic electromagnetic fields formed by double layers, thin regions comprising two parallel layers with opposite electrical charge. These boundary regions would be made up of matter and antimatter that would generate annihilation radiation, forming a plasma. Alfvén introduced the term ambiplasma for a plasma made up of matter and antimatter and the double layers are thus formed of ambiplasma. According to Alfvén, such an ambiplasma would be relatively long-lived as the component particles and antiparticles would be too hot and too low-density to annihilate each other rapidly. The double layers will act to repel clouds of opposite type, but combine clouds of the same type, creating ever-larger regions of matter and antimatter. The idea of ambiplasma was developed further into the forms of heavy ambiplasma (protons-antiprotons) and light ambiplasma (electrons-positrons).
Alfvén-Klein cosmology was proposed in part to explain the observed baryon asymmetry in the universe, starting from an initial condition of exact symmetry between matter and antimatter. According to Alfvén and Klein, ambiplasma would naturally form pockets of matter and pockets of antimatter that would expand outwards as annihilation between matter and antimatter occurred in the double layer at the boundaries. They concluded that we must just happen to live in one of the pockets that was mostly baryons rather than antibaryons, explaining the baryon asymmetry. The pockets, or bubbles, of matter or antimatter would expand because of annihilations at the boundaries, which Alfvén considered as a possible explanation for the observed apparent expansion of the universe, which would be merely a local phase of a much larger history. Alfvén postulated that the universe has always existed due to causality arguments and the rejection of ex nihilo models, such as the Big Bang, as a stealth form of creationism. The exploding double layer was also suggested by Alfvén as a possible mechanism for the generation of cosmic rays, x-ray bursts and gamma-ray bursts.
In 1993, theoretical cosmologist Jim Peebles criticized the cosmology of Klein (1971) and Alfvén's 1966 book, Worlds-Antiworlds, writing that "there is no way that the results can be consistent with the isotropy of the cosmic microwave background radiation and X-ray backgrounds". In his book he also claimed that Alfvén's models do not predict Hubble's law, the abundance of light elements, or the existence of the cosmic microwave background. A further difficulty with the ambiplasma model is that matter–antimatter annihilation results in the production of high energy photons, which are not observed in the amounts predicted. While it is possible that the local "matter-dominated" cell is simply larger than the observable universe, this proposition does not lend itself to observational tests.
Galaxies and quasars 
Winston H. Bostick carried out laboratory experiments in the 1950s by vaporising titanium wires with a 10,000 A current, turning them into a plasma, and: "was the first to record the formation of spiral structures in the laboratory from interacting plasmoids and to note the striking similarity to their galactic analogs". Bostick claimed that plasma scaling applied to these laboratory experiments showed galaxies had initially formed from plasma under the influence of a magnetic field.
Computer simulations of colliding plasma clouds by Anthony Peratt in the 1980s also mimicked the shape of galaxies. One simulation showed the cross-section of two plasma filaments joining in a z-pinch, the filaments starting 300,000 light years apart and carrying Birkeland currents of 1018 Amps. Other simulations showed emerging jets of material from the central buffer region, which resembled that observed from quasars and active galactic nuclei, without the need for supermassive black holes required in simulations based on gravity alone. Extending the simulation run time showed: "the transition of double radio galaxies to radioquasars to radioquiet QSO's to peculiar and Seyfert galaxies, finally ending in spiral galaxies". The simulation accounted for flat galaxy rotation curves without dark matter (the discrepancy between observed galaxy rotation curves and those simulated based on gravity alone has to be accounted for by introducing dark matter). A flat rotation curve emerges quite naturally in a galaxy governed by electromagnetic fields, the spiral arms of galaxies are like rolling springs that have the same rotational velocity along their length.
Complementing and in agreement with these simulation studies by Peratt was an analytical model of a plasma quasar mechanism by Eric Lerner. This contradicts the standard model of quasars as being powered by supermassive black holes. A dense plasma focus (DPF) device to concentrate power using the same principle as this proposed plasma quasar mechanism is a possible way of achieving controlled nuclear fusion on Earth.
Further developments 
While plasma cosmology has never had the support of most astronomers or physicists, a few researchers have continued to promote and develop the approach, publishing mostly in the IEEE journal Transactions on Plasma Science.[improper synthesis?] Additionally, in 1991, Eric J. Lerner, an independent researcher in plasma physics and nuclear fusion, wrote a popular-level book supporting plasma cosmology titled The Big Bang Never Happened.
Comparison to the standard model of Big Bang cosmology 
Proponents of plasma cosmology claim electrodynamics is as important as gravity in explaining the structure of the universe, and speculate that it provides an alternative explanation for the evolution of galaxies and the initial collapse of interstellar clouds. In particular plasma cosmology is claimed to provide an alternative explanation for the flat rotation curves of spiral galaxies and to do away with the need for dark matter in galaxies and with the need for supermassive black holes in galaxy centres to power quasars and active galactic nuclei. This is controversial, as theoretical analysis shows that "many scenarios for the generation of seed magnetic fields, which rely on the survival and sustainability of currents at early times [of the universe are disfavored]", i.e. Birkeland currents of the magnitude needed (say 1018 Amps) for galaxy formation are thought to not exist.
Light element production without Big Bang nucleosynthesis (as required in e.g. Alfvén-Klein cosmology) has been discussed in the mainstream literature and was determined to produce excessive x-rays and gamma rays beyond that observed. This issue has not been completely addressed by plasma cosmology proponents in their proposals.
In 1995 Eric Lerner published the only proposal based on plasma cosmology to explain the cosmic microwave background radiation (CMB) since the Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) results were announced in 1992. He argues that his model can explain both the fidelity of the CMB spectrum to that of a black body and the low level of anisotropies found. The sensitivity and resolution of the measurement of the CMB anisotropies was greatly advanced by WMAP. The fact that the CMB is so isotropic, in line with the predictions of the Big Bang model, was subsequently heralded as a major confirmation of the Big Bang model to the detriment of alternatives. These measurements show the acoustic peaks in the early universe are fit with high accuracy by the predictions of the Big Bang model. There has never been an attempt to explain the detailed spectrum of the anisotropies within the framework of plasma cosmology.
References and Notes 
- Hannes Alfvén, "On hierarchical cosmology" (1983) Astrophysics and Space Science (ISSN 0004-640X), vol. 89, no. 2, January 1983, p. 313-324.
- Anthony L. Peratt (February 1992). "Plasma Cosmology". Sky & Telescope. Retrieved 26 May 2012.
- It is described as such by advocates and critics alike. In the February 1992 issue of Sky & Telescope ("Plasma Cosmology"), Anthony Peratt describes it as a "nonstandard picture". The open letter at www.cosmologystatement.org – which has been signed by Peratt and Lerner – notes that "today, virtually all financial and experimental resources in cosmology are devoted to big bang studies". The ΛCDM model big bang picture is typically described as the "concordance model", "standard model" or "standard paradigm" of cosmology here, and here.
- Alfven, Hannes O. G., "Cosmology in the plasma universe - an introductory exposition", IEEE Transactions on Plasma Science (ISSN 0093-3813), vol. 18, Feb. 1990, p. 5-10.
- Plasma cosmology advocates Anthony Peratt and Eric Lerner, in an open letter cosigned by a total of 34 authors, state "An open exchange of ideas is lacking in most mainstream conferences", and "Today, virtually all financial and experimental resources in cosmology are devoted to big bang studies". 
- Tom Van Flandern writes in "The Top 30 Problems with the Big Bang", "For the most part, these four alternative cosmologies [including Plasma Cosmology] are ignored by astronomers."
- Helge S. Kragh, Cosmology and Controversy: The Historical Development of Two Theories of the Universe, 1996 Princeton University Press, 488 pages, ISBN 0-691-00546-X (pp.482-483)
- A. Peratt (1986). "Evolution of the Plasma Universe: II. The Formation of Systems of Galaxies". IEEE Trans. on Plasma Science. PS-14: 763–778. ISSN 0093-3813.
- H. Alfvén and C.-G. Falthammar, Cosmic electrodynamics (2nd edition, Clarendon press, Oxford, 1963). "The basic reason why electromagnetic phenomena are so important in cosmical physics is that there exist celestial magnetic fields which affect the motion of charged particles in space ... The strength of the interplanetary magnetic field is of the order of 10-4 gauss (10 nanoteslas), which gives the [ratio of the magnetic force to the force of gravity] ≈ 107. This illustrates the enormous importance of interplanetary and interstellar magnetic fields, compared to gravitation, as long as the matter is ionized." (p.2-3)
- Alfvén, H.; Carlqvist, P., "Interstellar clouds and the formation of stars" Astrophysics and Space Science, vol. 55, no. 2, May 1978, p. 487-509.
- Siegel, E. R.; Fry, J. N. (Sept 2006). "Can Electric Charges and Currents Survive in an Inhomogeneous Universe?". arXiv.
- H. Alfvén, O. Klein (1963). "Matter-Antimatter Annihilation and Cosmology". Arkiv Fysik 23: 187–194.
- H. Alfvén and C.-G. Falthammar (1963). Cosmic electrodynamics. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
- H. Alfvén (1966). Worlds-antiworlds: antimatter in cosmology. Freeman.
- O. Klein, "Arguments concerning relativity and cosmology," Science 171 (1971), 339
- Hannes Alfvén, "Has the Universe an Origin" (1988) Trita-EPP, 1988, 07, p. 6.
- Anthony L. Peratt, "Introduction to Plasma Astrophysics and Cosmology" (1995) Astrophysics and Space Science, v. 227, p. 3-11: "issues now a hundred years old were debated including plasma cosmology's traditional refusal to claim any knowledge about an 'origin' of the universe (e.g., Alfvén, 1988)"
- Alfvén, Hannes, "Cosmology: Myth or Science?" (1992) IEEE Transactions on Plasma Science (ISSN 0093-3813), vol. 20, no. 6, p. 590-600
- Alfvén, H. (March 1984). "Cosmology - Myth or science?". Journal of Astrophysics and Astronomy 5: 79–98. Bibcode:1984JApA....5...79A. doi:10.1007/BF02714974. ISSN 0250-6335.
- Hannes Alfvén, Cosmic plasma. Taylor & Francis US, 1981,IV.10.3.2, p.109. "Double layers may also produce extremely high energies. This is known to take place in solar flares, where they generate solar cosmic rays up to 109 to 1010 eV."
- Alfvén, H., "Double layers and circuits in astrophysics", (1986) IEEE Transactions on Plasma Science (ISSN 0093-3813), vol. PS-14, Dec. 1986, p. 779-793. Based on the NASA sponsored conference "Double Layers in Astrophysics" (1986)
- P. J. E. Peebles, Principles of Physical Cosmology, (1993) Princeton University Press, p. 207, ISBN 978-0-691-07428-3
- A. Peratt (1986). "Evolution of the plasma universe. I - Double radio galaxies, quasars, and extragalactic jets". IEEE Trans. on Plasma Science. PS-14: 639–660. ISSN 0093-3813.
- William L. Laurence, "Physicist 'Creates' Universe in a Test Tube; Atom Gun Produces Galaxies and Gives Clues to Creation Cosmos 'Created' in a Test Tube", The New York Times, Wednesday, December 12, 1956, similar here
- "Physicists Depict New Concepts Of Universe and Its Basic Laws", The New York Times, Sunday, February 3, 1957
- Bostick, W. H., "What laboratory-produced plasma structures can contribute to the understanding of cosmic structures both large and small" (1986) IEEE Transactions on Plasma Science (ISSN 0093-3813), vol. PS-14, Dec. 1986, p. 703-717
- AL Peratt, J Green and D Nielson (20 June 1980). "Evolution of Colliding Plasmas". Physical Review Letters 44: 1767–1770. Bibcode:1980PhRvL..44.1767P. doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.44.1767.
- E. J. Lerner (1991). The Big Bang Never Happened. New York and Toronto: Random House. ISBN 0-8129-1853-3.
- AL Peratt and J Green (1983). "On the Evolution of Interacting, Magnetized, Galactic Plasmas". Astrophysics and Space Science 91: 19–33. Bibcode:1983Ap&SS..91...19P. doi:10.1007/BF00650210.
- E.J. Lerner (1986). "Magnetic Self‑Compression in Laboratory Plasma, Quasars and Radio Galaxies". Laser and Particle Beams. 4 part 2: 193‑222. Bibcode:1986LPB.....4..193L. doi:10.1017/S0263034600001750.
- (See IEEE Transactions on Plasma Science, issues in 1986, 1989, 1990, 1992, 2000, 2003, and 2007)
- Colafrancesco, S. and Giordano, F. The impact of magnetic field on the cluster M - T relation Astronomy and Astrophysics, Volume 454, Issue 3, August II 2006, pp. L131-L134.  recount: "Numerical simulations have shown that the wide-scale magnetic fields in massive clusters produce variations of the cluster mass at the level of ~ 5 − 10% of their unmagnetized value ... Such variations are not expected to produce strong variations in the relative [mass-temperature] relation for massive clusters."
- J.Audouze et al., "Big Bang Photosynthesis and Pregalactic Nucleosynthesis of Light Elements", Astrophysical Journal 293:L53-L57, 1985 June 15 
- Epstein et al., "The origin of deuterium", Nature, Vol. 263, September 16, 1976 point out that if proton fluxes with energies greater than 500 MeV were intense enough to produce the observed levels of deuterium, they would also produce about 1000 times more gamma rays than are observed.
- Ref. 10 in "Galactic Model of Element Formation" (Lerner, IEEE Trans. Plasma Science Vol. 17, No. 2, April 1989 ) is J.Audouze and J.Silk, "Pregalactic Synthesis of Deuterium" in Proc. ESO Workshop on "Primordial Helium", 1983, pp. 71-75  Lerner includes a paragraph on "Gamma Rays from D Production" in which he claims that the expected gamma ray level is consistent with the observations. He cites neither Audouze nor Epstein in this context, and does not explain why his result contradicts theirs.
- Eric Lerner. Intergalactic Radio Absorption and the COBE Data, Astrophysics and Space Science, 227: 61-81, 1995.
- D. N. Spergel et al. (WMAP collaboration), "First year Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) observations: Determination of cosmological parameters", Astrophys. J. Suppl. 148 (2003) 175.
See also 
- Alfvén, Hannes:
- "Cosmic Plasma" (Reidel, 1981) ISBN 90-277-1151-8
- "On hierarchical cosmology", Astrophysics and Space Science (ISSN 0004-640X), vol. 89, no. 2, January 1983, pp. 313-324
- "Cosmology in the plasma universe", Laser and Particle Beams (ISSN 0263-0346), vol. 6, August 1988, pp. 389-398 Full text
- "Model of the plasma universe", IEEE Transactions on Plasma Science (ISSN 0093-3813), vol. PS-14, December 1986, pp. 629-638 Full text (PDF)
- "The Plasma Universe", Physics Today (ISSN 0031-9228), vol. 39, issue 9, September 1986, pp. 22 - 27
- Peratt, Anthony:
- "Physics of the Plasma Universe", (Springer, 1992) ISBN 0-387-97575-6
- "Simulating spiral galaxies", Sky and Telescope (ISSN 0037-6604), vol. 68, August 1984, pp. 118-122
- "Are Black Holes Necessary?", Sky and Telescope (ISSN 0037-6604), vol. 66, July 1983, pp. 19-22
- "Evolution of the plasma universe. I - Double radio galaxies, quasars, and extragalactic jets", IEEE Transactions on Plasma Science (ISSN 0093-3813), vol. PS-14, December 1986, pp. 639-660 Full text (PDF)
- "Evolution of the plasma universe. II - The formation of systems of galaxies", IEEE Transactions on Plasma Science (ISSN 0093-3813), vol. PS-14, December 1986, pp. 763-778 Full text (PDF)
- "The role of particle beams and electrical currents in the plasma universe", Laser and Particle Beams (ISSN 0263-0346), vol. 6, August 1988, pp. 471-491 Full text (PDF)
- Wright, E. L. "Errors in The Big Bang Never Happened". See also: Lerner, E. J. "Dr. Wright is Wrong", Lerner's reply to the above.
- IEEE journal Transactions on Plasma Science: special issues on Space and Cosmic Plasma 1986, 1989, 1990, 1992, 2000, 2003, and 2007
- Cambridge University Press journal Laser and Particle Beams: Particle Beams and Basic Phenomena in the Plasma Universe, a Special Issue in Honor of the 80th Birthday of Hannes Alfvén, vol. 6, issue 3, August 1988 
- Various authors: "Introduction to Plasma Astrophysics and Cosmology", Astrophysics and Space Science, v. 227 (1995) p. 3-11. Proceedings of the Second IEEE International Workshop on Plasma Astrophysics and Cosmology, held from 10 to 12 May 1993 in Princeton, New Jersey
- "Anatomy of a Galaxy in Evolution"
- Plasma Cosmology .net