Does the vacuum of space have finite electrical resistance?

In summary, the question is whether the vacuum of space has a finite or infinite electrical resistance. Some believe that with a high enough voltage, a current can be induced in the vacuum due to the presence of charged particles popping in and out of existence. However, others argue that a true vacuum would have infinite electrical resistance and that radio communication would be impossible in that case. It is also suggested to search for "vacuum tube" for further understanding of this concept.
  • #1
serp777
117
6
Air typically has a very high but non zero resistance. Given that air is just a medium, and that space is also just a medium, does the vacuum of space have a fundamental constant of electrical resistance, or is the electrical resistance of space truly infinite? How is this proven one way or the other, or can it even be proved at all realistically? Given that space has charged particles popping in and out of existence, my hypothesis is that space does have a finite value of electrical resistance, although it is extremely high. A high enough voltage could polarize charged particles in space and possibly cause a current to flow.

Assuming you had limitless voltage, could you make any current flow across two points in vacuum space?
 
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  • #2
serp777 said:
Assuming you had limitless voltage, could you make any current flow across two points in vacuum space?

Google for "vacuum tube".
 
  • #3
1. With a high enough charge density, virtual electrons can be popped out of the vacuum. The experiment was two nuclei colliding, which popped out electrons.
2. High intensity microwaves will cause arcing in the vacuum; although, the usual photos are in air, which arcs more easily (the electrons are readily available).
 
  • #4
If space had infinite electrical resistance, it would be impossible for radio communication to exist between Earth and spacecraft . Radio telescopes would be giant hoaxes.
 
  • #5
the thing is maybe with a few hundred volts space really is a perfect insulator but once the voltage goes high enough , or as in your hypothetical example is limitless or infinite a current path can indeed form in a vacuum carried out by electrons as they can form a current also through vacuum , hence why Nugatory suggested for googling vacuum tube.
remember that not the actual electrons are the first one to make the connection but the field , in this case the electric field which can go through space and indeed does so and attracts oppositely charged particles.
 
  • #6
A true vacuum would have infinite electrical resistance because there is nothing to carry the current. Even interstellar space is far from a true vacuum though.
 
  • #7
SteamKing said:
If space had infinite electrical resistance, it would be impossible for radio communication to exist between Earth and spacecraft . Radio telescopes would be giant hoaxes.

You must be thinking of electrical permittivity, radio communications don't rely on any type of conduction in the medium.
 
  • #8
Imabuleva said:
A true vacuum would have infinite electrical resistance because there is nothing to carry the current. Even interstellar space is far from a true vacuum though.

Even a true vacuum would eventually break due to virtual particles being pulled from the vacuum and becoming real electrons and positrons (where the energy for the pair production would come from the static electric field energy density). A dimensional analysis shows that the electric field needed for that to happen would be of the order of [itex]E \sim \frac{m_e^2 c^3}{e \hbar} \sim 10^{18} V/m[/itex]
That's clearly an absurdly large electric field.
 

1. What is electrical resistance in the vacuum of space?

Electrical resistance is a measure of how difficult it is for an electric current to flow through a material. In the vacuum of space, it refers to the ability of space to conduct electricity.

2. Does the vacuum of space have finite electrical resistance?

Yes, the vacuum of space does have finite electrical resistance. While space is mostly empty, it still contains particles and electromagnetic fields that can conduct electricity. However, this resistance is extremely low compared to materials on Earth.

3. How is the electrical resistance of space measured?

The electrical resistance of space is measured using a unit called ohms (Ω). This unit measures the amount of resistance in a material when a voltage is applied to it. In space, this resistance is often measured using specialized equipment on spacecraft or satellites.

4. What factors can affect the electrical resistance of space?

The electrical resistance of space can be affected by several factors such as the density of particles in a particular area, the strength of electric and magnetic fields, and the temperature of the environment. These factors can impact the movement of charged particles and hence, affect the resistance of space.

5. How does the electrical resistance of space impact space travel?

The electrical resistance of space can impact space travel in various ways. It can affect the performance of equipment and instruments on spacecraft and satellites, and can also cause damage to them. Spacecraft must be designed to withstand and operate in different levels of electrical resistance in space to ensure successful missions.

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