18 Radiative Processes

CHAPTER 18

Radiative Processes

Aside from what can be learned from particles or aggregates of matter encountered by the earth in the course of its motion through space, empirical information about astronomical entities and phenomena comes almost entirely from incoming electromagnetic radiation. Until 1932 the observations of this radiation were limited to the optical range and a portion of the adjoining infrared. In that year radiation at radio wavelengths originating from extraterrestrial sources was detected. Sixteen years later, x-ray radiation from astronomical sources joined the list, and gamma rays soon followed. In the meantime, coverage of the infrared range has gradually been extended. As matters now stand, the entire electromagnetic spectrum is supplying astronomical information.

The most significant result of this widening of the scope of the observations is not the increased quantity of information that has been obtained, but the much greater variety of information. The new observations have not only brought to light new aspects of known astronomical objects, but have resulted in the discovery of classes of objects that were previously unknown and unsuspected. The most unexpected feature of these new kinds of objects, and the most difficult to explain on the basis of conventional astronomical theory, is the magnitude of the non-thermal components of the radiation being received. Non-thermal radiation plays only a relatively minor role in the astronomical phenomena that were known prior to the recent opening up of the high and low frequency ranges of the spectrum. But the radiation from many of the newly discovered objects is mainly non-thermal. This has confronted the astronomers with a problem for which they have not yet been able to find a satisfactory solution within the boundaries of accepted thought.

“We must admit at the outset,” says F. G. Smith, “that we have a very poor understanding of the processes by which pulsars radiate.”203 The primary radiation from these and the other very compact astronomical objects is definitely non-thermal. As expressed by M. and G. Burbidge, with particular reference to the continuous radiation from the quasars, “it is clear that the observed continuous energy distribution does not accord with any model in which the radiation is emitted thermally from a hot gas.” These authors then assert that “There are only two processes that appear to be possible in this situation. They are synchrotron emission and emission by the inverse Compton process.”204

This is the same kind of a situation that we have encountered so often in the subject areas examined earlier. No satisfactory explanation is available for the event or phenomenon under consideration within the limits of existing physical theory, and the investigators are unwilling to concede that the fault may lie in that theory. The prevailing policy, therefore, is to take what they consider the least objectionable of the known alternatives, the synchrotron process, and to accept it as the correct explanation, on the strength of the assertion that “there is no other way.” Time after time in the pages of this and the preceding volumes we have encountered this assertion, and invariably our theoretical development has shown that there is another way, one that does lead to a satisfactory answer. So it is in the present case.

Actually it should be obvious that synchrotron emission is not the kind of a process that meets the requirements as the principal source, or even a major source, of non-thermal radiation from astronomical objects. It is clearly one of the class of what we may call incidental processes of generating radiation, processes that produce limited amounts of radiation under very special conditions, and have no significant impact on the radiation situation in general.

The basis of the synchrotron process is the property of electrons whereby they radiate if they are accelerated in a magnetic field. Both an adequate supply of very high energy electrons and a magnetic field of the necessary strength are therefore required in order to make this kind of radiation possible. Such a combination is present only under very unusual circumstances. Indeed, there is little, if any, evidence that the required conditions actually exist anywhere in the astronomical field. Thus this currently accepted theory relies on the existence of very special and uncommon conditions to account for phenomena that are so common and so widely distributed that it is almost self-evident that they are products of the normal evolutionary development; features of the matter itself, rather than processes originated by conditions in the environment.

Strong magnetic fields are relatively uncommon. Large concentrations of “relativistic” electrons—that is, electrons with extremely high speeds—are still less common. As expressed by Simon Mitton, “our general experience is that sufficiently large volumes of space are essentially electrically neutral.”205 Furthermore, there are serious problems in accounting for the containment of the hypothetical concentrations of electrons, and the persistence of these concentrations over the long periods of time during which the non-thermal radiation is begging emitted. And no one is facing up to the problem of explaining how the energy of these electrons is maintained during these long periods of time. The output of energy from many of the sources is enormous, and the theorists are not even able to account for the generation of these huge amounts of energy, to say nothing of explaining how that energy is continually converted into the form of high energy electrons.

The prevailing tendency is to assume that the synchrotron process produces the non-thermal radiation, and then to deduce from this that the conditions necessary for the operation of the process must exist in the objects from which the radiation originates. The following statement from Bok and Bok is typical:

The fact that radio-synchrotron radiation is observed as coming from the direction of known supernova remnants, such as the Crab Nebula, indicates that large-scale magnetic fields are associated with them.206

The situation here is very similar to that of the “neutron stars” discussed in the preceding chapter. In that case, the argument goes like this: (1) pulsars exist, (2) they are thought to be neutron stars, (3) consequently, some method of producing neutron stars must exist, even though no one is able to suggest a feasible process for their production. Similarly, in the present instance, we are offered this argument: (1) non-thermal radiation exists, (2) it is thought to be synchrotron radiation, (3) consequently, the conditions necessary for the production of synchrotron radiation (such as strong magnetic fields) must exist, even though there is no observational indication that this is true.

Other investigators go still farther, and find “proofs” of the validity of the identification of the non-thermal radiation as a product of the synchrotron process in some of the characteristics of the radiation, such as the polarization. Here the argument is (1) synchrotron radiation is expected to be at least partially polarized, (2) the radiation from some of the non-thermal sources is totally or partially polarized, (3) therefore the observed radiation must be synchrotron radiation. In order to “save” this obviously invalid conclusion, the theorists invoke the “no other way” argument, and assert that the synchrotron process is the only possibility (the inverse Compton process suggested in reference204 is usually ignored). This is a flagrant example of the presumptuous attitude criticized by Hoyle: ”It predicates that we know everything. ”

Similarly, Shklovsky deduces theoretically that synchrotron radiation from distributed sources such as the supernova remnants should decrease rapidly as these sources expand. He then asserts categorically that “The detection of the theoretically predicted rapid decline in the radio flux of Cassiopeia A affords a direct proof of the synchrotron theory and all its implications.”207

Such assertions are preposterous, regardless of how eminent their authors may be, or how widely they are accepted. All that has been demonstrated by the agreement with observation in each of theses two instances is that, in some cases, the synchrotron theory meets one of the many requirements for validity. The “direct proof” claimed by Shklovsky can come only from meeting all of these requirements in all cases—at least all known cases. At the current stage of astronomical knowledge, no theory of the non-thermal radiation can legitimately claim to be verified by astronomical observation. The observational data are simply far too limited. The astronomers admit that their theory lacks credibility in application to extreme situations. For instance, we are told that “synchrotron theory is severely strained to explain the radiation from highly polarized quasars.”208 It is increasingly evident that some less restricted explanation has to be found for the extremely powerful and highly variable emission from these and other major radiation sources. But a theory that is capable of accounting for these powerful emissions can be applied to the simpler situations as well. There is no need for the synchrotron process.

The truth is that the astronomers have not yet realized that their discovery of the very energetic compact extra-galactic objects has opened up a totally new field of study. The strong non-thermal radiation from these objects, including vast outpourings of radiant energy unparalleled elsewhere in the universe, are so different in magnitude, and in their widespread distribution, from the relatively insignificant terrestrial phenomena such as synchrotron radiation, that it should be evident that there is a difference in kind. The observers have recognized that the compact objects which they have recently discovered—pulsars, quasars, etc.—are physical entities of a kind heretofore unknown, and that some new insight into physical fundamentals will be required in order to gain a comprehensive understanding of these objects. What is now needed is an extension of this recognition to the radiation from these unfamiliar entities, a realization that there, too, some new processes are involved.

One of the basic assumptions generally accepted by scientists is that the fundamental laws and principles that are found to be valid in terrestrial experience are applicable throughout the universe. From this it follows that all-physical phenomena, wherever located. should be capable of explanation by means of these same laws and principles. These are reasonable assumptions, and their validity has now been confirmed in the course of the development of the Reciprocal System of theory. But there is an unfortunate tendency to extend this line of thought to the further assumption that all physical phenomena, regardless of location, must be explainable by means of the same processes that are found to he in operation in the terrestrial environment. This assumption is definitely not valid, because the physical conditions prevailing on earth are limited to a very small part of the total range of those conditions.

It is obviously possible that there may be processes in operation elsewhere in the universe that cannot be duplicated on earth because the conditions necessary for the operation of those processes. such as for example, extremely high temperatures or pressures, are unattainable. In the previous pages we have seen that such processes do. in fact, exist. The unwarranted assumption that they do not exist has therefore had a very detrimental effect on astronomical understanding We have already seen how its application to the stellar energy generation problem has resulted in a monumental distortion of evolutionary theory. Now we meet a similar situation in the application of this assumption to the theory of non-thermal radiation.

Enough information is now available to show that non-thermal radiation is a major feature of the physical universe. It is the predominant form of radiation emitted by a variety of astronomical objects, including the most powerful of the known sources of radiation. The theories that attempt to explain these very common phenomena of a major character by means of processes that require very uncommon conditions are clearly on the wrong track. They are committing the proverbial error of sending a boy to do a man’s work. It is true that strong radiation of this non-thermal type is restricted to certain particular classes of objects (not clearly identified in current practice, but identified in the theory of the universe of motion as objects moving at speeds in excess of the speed of light). But within those classes of objects it is normal, rather than exceptional. The radiation process must therefore be one that becomes operative in the normal course of events.

The explanation of the non-thermal radiation that is derived from the Reciprocal System of theory conforms to this requirement. It brings the large-scale emission of this type of radiation into the mainstream of physical activity, where it clearly belongs. The finding of this present work is that the strange astronomical objects discovered in recent years, and identified as sources of strong non-thermal radiation, are ordinary material aggregates—stars, galaxies, or fragments thereof—that have been accelerated to speeds in excess of the speed of light by violent explosions, and are moving in. or returning from, the upper speed ranges discussed in Chapter 15. The strong non-thermal radiation from these objects is generated by processes that are normal features of physical activity where these upper range speeds are involved.

Since the existence of speeds beyond the speed of light has not been recognized by the astronomers, who accept the physicists’ speed limit with the same unquestioning faith that they manifest in accepting the physicists’ equally misleading assumption as to the nature of the stellar energy generation process, we will be dealing with a hitherto unexplored field in our examination of the radiation currently classified as non-thermal. This is a place where we will be able to make good use of the ability of a general physical theory, one that derives all of its conclusions from the same set of premises, to deal with the previously unknown areas of the physical universe, as well as those with which we are already familiar. All of the physical principles, laws, and relations that we will need in order to get a complete and consistent picture of the radiation situation in the upper speed ranges are already available. They have been identified and verified in the physical areas where the empirical facts are readily accessible to accurate observation and measurement, and they have been explained in detail in the preceding pages of this and the earlier volumes. Nothing new is required.

Our first concern will be to identify the different classes of radiation with which we will be dealing. The customary classification of all radiation into two categories, thermal and non-thermal, is a reflection of the very narrow limits, within which terrestrial experience is restricted. In the universe as a whole, non-thermal radiation plays a much larger role than the thermal radiation that is so prominent in the local environment. Actually, there are four kinds of radiation that can be classified as major features of the physical activity of the universe, in addition to the processes that, as noted earlier, are minor and incidental. Thermal radiation is one of the four. The radiation commonly classified as non-thermal includes the emission at radio wavelengths, x-rays and gamma rays, and an inverse type of thermal radiation.

As explained in Chapter 14, ordinary thermal radiation is a high frequency phenomenon, in the sense that it is produced at wavelengths shorter than 11.67 microns. Matter at temperatures below that corresponding to unit speed produces this thermal radiation. Matter at temperatures above this level produces inverse thermal radiation by the same process, but at wavelengths longer than 11.67 microns, and with an energy distribution that is the inverse of the normal distribution applicable to thermal radiation. In both cases, a portion of the radiation produced by matter in any of the condensed states (solid, liquid, or condensed gas) is degraded in passing out of the sub-unit region in which it is produced. This minor component appears as radiation of the inverse frequency, but it conforms to the energy distribution of the radiation class to which it belongs. The thermal energy emission in the infrared, for instance, decreases with increasing wavelength.

Here, then, is the explanation of the infrared component of the observed non-thermal radiation. Like ordinary thermal radiation, this inverse type is produced by the normal motions of the matter from which it emanates, and the process requires neither a special set of environmental conditions in which to operate, nor a separate energy source. Since every atom contributes to this radiation, all that is necessary in order to constitute a strong source is a sufficiently large aggregate of matter at a temperature not too far above that corresponding to unit speed. As we will see in the pages that follow, several classes of compact objects meet these requirements.

The difference between the thermal and inverse thermal radiation enables us to make a positive identification of the speed range of the components of astronomical aggregates. Strong inverse thermal radiation at wavelengths greater than 11.67 microns (in the far infrared) identifies the emitter as one whose components are in the upper speed ranges. We may also go a step farther, and deduce that if this emitting object produces radiation at any wavelength outside the inverse thermal range, this will be radiation at radio wavelengths.

The inverse thermal process is not capable of producing strong radiation in the radio range. Like the thermal process, it is one of low intensity relative to the natural datum at unit speed, and it is therefore limited mainly to wavelengths that are relatively close to the unit level of 11.67 microns. It has long been understood that most of the observed radiation at very short wavelengths, x-rays and gamma rays, is not produced thermally, but by processes of a different kind, involving some more fundamental activity of greater intensity in the emitting matter. Our finding is that the same is true of the radiation at very long wavelengths, those in the radio range. In both cases, the principal process involved is radioactivity, the nature of which was examined in detail in Volume II. As brought out in that discussion, the essential feature of radioactivity is a change in atomic structure.

In all radioactive events, the function of the electromagnetic radiation is to take care of the fractional amounts of motion that remain after the major redistributions, such as the emission of alpha and beta particles, are accomplished. As we have seen, the equivalent of a fractional unit of speed is an Integral number of units of the inverse entity, energy. Spontaneous radiation from matter moving at less than unit speed therefore involves emission of photons of equivalent speed 1/n2 (or 1/n2-1/m2), where n is the number of units of energy. And since the fraction 1/n2 is small, for reasons explained in the detailed discussion in Volume II, n is a relatively large number. The radiation thus consists of high energy photons, x-rays and gamma rays. In radiation from matter moving at speeds greater than unity, the full unit is a unit of energy, and the equivalent of a fractional unit is attained by adding units of speed. Spontaneous radiation from matter moving at upper range speeds involves emission of low energy photons, with frequencies in the radio range.

With this understanding of the radiation pattern, we are now able to identify the general nature of the strong emitters of radio and x-ray radiation. A small or moderate amount of radiation of these types may originate in any one of a number of ways, but the discrete astronomical sources of strong radiation are objects in which radioactive processes are taking place on a vast scale. For an understanding of how such extremely large quantities of radioactivity originate, we need to turn to a phenomenon that is not recognized in conventional science, but was discovered in the course of the theoretical development described in Volume II. This is the process that we are calling magnetic ionization. Just as soon as the nature of electric ionization was clarified in the original phase of the investigation, prior to the publication of the first edition of this work, it became obvious that there must be a two-dimensional analog of the one-dimensional electric ionization. The level of this magnetic ionization is the principal determinant of the stability of the various isotopes of the chemical elements.

As explained in Volume II, an atom of atomic number Z has a rotational mass, m,., equal to 2Z. At a magnetic ionization level of zero, this is the atomic weight (subject to some modifications of a minor character). When raised to the magnetic ionization level 1, the atom acquires a vibrational mass component, mv, of magnitude I mr2/156.44. The total of mr and mv establishes the atomic weight (or isotopic weight) corresponding to the center of the zone of isotopic stability. If an isotope is outside this zone of stability, it undergoes a spontaneous radioactive process that moves it back to this stable zone. The composition of the motions of a stable isotope of an element can be changed only by external influences, such as a violent contact, or absorption of a particle, and the occurrence of such changes is related to the nature of the environment, rather than to anything inherent in the atom itself. Atom building is therefore a slow and uncertain process. On the other hand, an unstable isotope is capable of moving toward stability on its own initiative by ejecting the appropriate motion, or combination of motions. The isotopic adjustment process begins automatically when conditions change.

The magnetic ionization level of matter is determined by the concentration of neutrinos in that matter. The level of concentration is primarily a function of age. Those aggregates that have existed long enough to reach one or the other of the destructive limits, and become supernovae, are therefore magnetically ionized. When a portion of such an aggregate is accelerated to a speed in excess of unity (the speed of light), its constituent atoms move apart in time, as explained in the previous pages. The neutrinos of the material type, which cause the magnetic ionization, cannot move through space, inasmuch as they are inherently units of space, and the relation of space to space is not motion. But these neutrinos are capable of moving in the empty time that exists between the fast-moving atoms in the intermediate speed range, since the relation of space (neutrinos) to time is motion. The diffusion of the neutrinos into this additional time reduces the neutrino concentration drastically, and the aggregate consequently drops to a lower ionization level. This lowers the zone of stability, and leaves some isotopes above the stability zone. These isotopes are then unstable, and must undergo radioactivity to eliminate some of their vibrational mass. As noted earlier, radioactivity in the intermediate speed range results in the emission of radiation at radio wavelengths.

Large-scale production of radiation in the radio range thus takes place under conditions in which extremely large quantities of matter are transferred from one speed range to a higher range in a relatively short period of time. Such conditions are, almost by definition, a result of explosive processes. (For an explanation of the concepts such as magnetic ionization, rotational and vibrational mass, and neutrino concentration, which enter into the description of the radiation production process, sees Volume II).

The time required for isotopic adjustments varies widely, but many of the isotopes are short-lived in the unstable state. These isotopes are quickly eliminated, and the radioactivity of the explosion products therefore decreases quite rapidly in the early stages following the explosion. But there are also many isotopes with much longer half-lives, some extending to billions of years, and a certain amount of radioactivity persists for a long period of time. Both the total length of the active period, and the time during which the radiation is at peak intensity are extended substantially when the aggregate is initially at a high magnetic ionization level, as the ionization is reduced successively from one level to the next as the expansion into time proceeds. Each of these reductions puts a new group of isotopes outside the stability limits, and initiates a new set of radioactive transformations.

There are no aggregates of intermediate or ultra high speed matter in the material (low speed) sector of the universe, other than these explosion products, but, as noted earlier, if an object ejected into the intermediate region by an explosion does not have enough speed to reach the two-unit level and escape from the material sector, it loses speed in interactions with the environment, and eventually returns to the region of motion at less than unit speed. In addition to the outward-moving explosion products, the material sector thus contains a population of returning objects of the same nature. As the speed of such an object decreases, the changes that took place during the outward movement are reversed. The amount of empty time between the components of the aggregate is reduced, the concentration of neutrinos (the magnetic temperature) is increased, and the aggregate moves step by step up to its original ionization level. Each successive increase in the ionization level leaves some isotopes below the new location of the zone of stability. and therefore radioactive. The last step in this process is a result of the transition from motion in time to motion in space. In this case the isotopic adjustments take place in matter that has dropped below unit speed, and the accompanying radiation is in the high frequency range; that is, it consists of x-rays and gamma rays.

Observers comment on “the great power of the [radiation] sources” and the “rapid and complex variability.” Both of these features are explained by the theory outlined in this chapter. Strong radioactive emission from masses of stellar magnitude is obviously sufficient to explain the observed power, while the emission from constantly changing groups of isotopes, with half-lives all the way from seconds to billions of years, accounts for both the rapidity and the complexity of the variations. The existence of both radio and x-ray emission from certain sources has also been noted. This is a result of the turbulent conditions in the material aggregates in which very energetic processes are taking place. While the net movement across the speed boundary determines the principal emission, there are local and temporary reversals of the general trend.

The radio-emitting objects thus far discussed are three classes of white dwarf stars: ordinary white dwarfs, pulsars, and central stars of planetary nebulae. Moist pulsars are known only by their radio emission. Only two of those located to date (1983) are optically visible, and if it were not for the pulsations, the remainder, like the non-pulsating Stage 1 and Stage 2 white dwarfs, would be merely unidentified radio sources. The relatively small class of pulsars whose radiation consists primarily of x-rays will be examined in the next chapter. Later we will consider a variety of radio-emitting objects of galactic size. All of these originate in the manner described in this chapter; that is, they are either explosion products that have been accelerated to speeds in the upper ranges, or they are aggregates that contain substantial quantities of such products.

The biggest problem that has confronted the astronomers ever since they extended the range of their observations beyond the relatively peaceful Milky Way galaxy and into the realm of violent events that take place in some of the extra-galactic aggregates, has been to account for the enormous energies that are involved in some of these events. Many different hypotheses have been advanced, mainly of a highly speculative nature, but none of these has reached the stage where it can withstand a critical scrutiny. As expressed by Simon Milton:

Although we can now give a qualitative picture of certain types of interaction, each time we have to pull a rabbit out of the hat—a mysterious source of energy. The evidence that the energy is there in abundance is convincing. But we have only begun to scratch the surface in the battle to explain whence this energy has come.209

As noted earlier, a major weakness of much of current astronomical theory is that it calls upon the existence of some very special conditions to explain general features of the evolution of aggregates of matter. In the theory of the universe of motion, on the other hand, the general evolutionary features are results of conditions that necessarily arise in the normal course of events. The basic energy production process in this universe. we find, is the conversion of rotational motion (mass) to linear motion (energy) at the age and temperature limits of matter. This one process accounts for the entire range of energy generation, from supplying the modest fuel requirements of the quiet stars, to providing the enormous energy required for the ejection of a quasar. And it requires no special conditions or unusual circumstances to bring it into operation. All matter eventually arrives at one or the other of these limits.

The manner in which the energy requirements of the violent astronomical phenomena are met will be developed in detail in the pages that follow. As we will see there, the current estimates of the energy output of the quasars are grossly overstated, and the largest sustained emission that we have to account for is comparable to that of the radio galaxies. In order to get an idea of the amount of energy that is involved, we may turn to the results of a calculation

If we are allowed to turn matter into energy with total efficiency we need something like… 100,000 stars. On the other hand, if we are only allowed to use conventional astrophysics, 10 million solar masses must be involved in the production of the requisite energy.210

The processes that take place at the destructive limits of matter, as described in the preceding pages of this and the earlier volumes have a maximum capability of complete conversion of matter into energy, but in practice operate at a lower rate, and thus require an amount of participating mass somewhat greater than Mitton’s lower figure. As we will see in the later chapters, this is well within the theoretical limits of the mass concentrations.

With the benefit of the additional information developed in this chapter, we are now in a position to enlarge upon what was said in Chapter 14 with reference to the conclusions that are currently being drawn from the Second Law of Thermodynamics. It is now evident that this law does not have the significance that present-day science attributes to it. The First Law of Thermodynamics, which expresses the principle of conservation of energy, defines “energy” in a broad manner, including in this concept both kinetic energy and potential energy. In the reasoning by which the conclusions as to the eventual “heat death” are reached, it is taken for granted that the term “energy” has the same meaning in the statement of the Second Law. In the words of the authors quoted in Chapter 14, “energy flows always in the same direction” from the highest level “in the hot interior of a star” to the lowest level, “a disordered cold soup of matter dispersed throughout space.” But this is not true of potential (that is, gravitational) energy. The potential energy of the matter in the hot interior of a star is at a minimum, while that of the dispersed “cold soup” is at a maximum. The evolutionary direction of this potential energy is opposite to that of the kinetic energy.

It should be noted, in this connection, that there is no thermal motion in space at the temperature of the “cold soup,” only a degree or two above absolute zero. Hydrogen is in the solid state below its melting point at 14 K. In that state (a property of the individual atom or molecule) the thermal motion is in time (equivalent space), and within the spatial unit in which each atom is located. Thus there is no outward force acting on the atoms of matter in this cold dispersed state other than that due to the outward progression of the natural reference system. Any sufficiently large volume of dispersed matter is therefore subject to a net gravitational force, and will eventually consolidate in the manner described in Chapter 1, converting its potential energy into kinetic energy.

Thus the “energy” to which the Second Law applies is not the same “energy” that is defined in the First Law. The Second Law applies only to kinetic energy. When this fact is recognized, the conclusions that can be drawn from the Second Law are completely changed. It then becomes clear that, in application to the large-scale activity of the universe, the Second Law of Thermodynamics is valid only in conjunction with the gravitational law. The result of this combination, instead of being a relentless progression toward a “heat death”—the “end of the world” envisioned by Davies—is a cyclic movement from maximum kinetic energy and minimum potential energy, in the stellar interior, to maximum potential energy and minimum kinetic energy, in the cold and diffuse state, followed by a swing back to the original combination. The findings of this present investigation show that the aggregation of the diffuse matter under the influence of gravitation is just as inevitable as the degradation of kinetic energy in thermodynamic activity. Indeed, as pointed out in Chapter 14, aggregation is the primary process. All matter entering the material sector is eventually incorporated into stars, but only part of it is returned to the diffuse state in space by means of the processes to which the Second Law applies. The remainder is ejected into the cosmic sector. and returns to the diffuse state in space by a longer route.

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