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As Solar Wind Blows, Our Heliosphere Balloons

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As Solar Wind Blows, Our Heliosphere Balloons

Post by Dragon on Thu Jun 07, 2018 6:16 pm

What happens when the solar wind suddenly starts to blow significantly harder? According to two recent studies, the boundaries of our entire solar system balloon outward — and an analysis of particles rebounding off of its edges will reveal its new shape.

In late 2014, NASA spacecraft detected a substantial change in the solar wind. For the first time in nearly a decade, the solar wind pressure — a combined measure of its speed and density — had increased by approximately 50 percent and remained that way for several years thereafter. Two years later, the Interstellar Boundary Explorer, or IBEX, spacecraft detected the first sign of the aftermath. Solar wind particles from the 2014 pressure increase had reached the edge of the heliosphere, neutralized themselves, and shot all the way back to Earth. And they had a story to tell.

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Re: As Solar Wind Blows, Our Heliosphere Balloons

Post by Dragon on Thu Jun 07, 2018 6:18 pm


Credits: NASA/IBEX/Adler Planetarium

An illustration depicting the layers of the heliosphere


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Re: As Solar Wind Blows, Our Heliosphere Balloons

Post by Dragon on Thu Jun 07, 2018 6:19 pm



This animation summarizes the new heliospheric scenario and the formation of the "sea" of bubbles in the heliosheath as surmised from Voyager data.

The sun's magnetic field points toward the sun in the northen hemisphere and away from the sun in the southern (shown in red and blue). These oppositely pointing magnetic fields are separated by a layer of current called the heliospheric current sheet

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Re: As Solar Wind Blows, Our Heliosphere Balloons

Post by Dragon on Thu Jun 07, 2018 6:20 pm



Voyager is set to exit the heliosphere. That is the place where the Sun's magnetic field ends, and enter interstellar space.

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