Birkeland's vision of what are now known as Birkeland currents became the source of a controversy that continued for over half a century, because their existence could not be confirmed from ground-based measurements alone. His theory was disputed and ridiculed at the time as a fringe theory by mainstream scientists, most notoriously by the eminent British geophysicist and mathematician Sydney Chapman who argued the mainstream view that currents could not cross the vacuum of space and therefore the currents had to be generated by the Earth. Birkeland's theory of the aurora continued to be dismissed by mainstream astrophysicists after his death in 1917. It was notably championed by the Swedish plasma scientist Hannes Alfvén, but Alfvén's work in turn was also disputed by Chapman.Hannes Alfven
In 1937, Alfvén argued that if plasma pervaded the universe, it could then carry electric currents capable of generating a galactic magnetic field.
Magnetic-Field Discovery Gives Clues to Galaxy-Formation Processes
Astronomers making a detailed, multi-telescope study of a nearby galaxy have discovered a magnetic field coiled around the galaxy's main spiral arm.Spooky Alignment of Quasars Across Billions of Light-years
The alignments in the new data, on scales even bigger than current predictions from simulations, may be a hint that there is a missing ingredient in our current models of the cosmos,” concludes Dominique Sluse.