Just in time to celebrate Halloween, scientists have discovered something strange and frightening happening at the edge of the solar system: the heliosphere – the boundary between the heliosphere (the bubble of the solar wind that encompasses the solar system) and the interstellar (interstellar matter) ripples and creates angles in an unexpected way.
The general concept that the heliosphere changes shape is not new; Over the past decade, researchers have determined that it’s not consistent. They made this discovery using data from Voyager 1 And the Voyager 2The only two spacecraft to have exited the heliosphere so far, as well as two NASA spacecraft. Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX), which studies the emissions of energetic neutral atoms (ENAs) that arise when the solar wind and interstellar medium interact.
Eric Zirnstein, an astrophysicist at Princeton University, wrote in an email to vice (Opens in a new tab). IBEX helps approximate that data.
Scientists have used the data to create models that predict how the heliosphere will change. Something small, solar wind And the interstellar medium push and pull each other to create an ever-moving boundary.
But recent heliosphere research has revealed data that contradict previous findings. Vice noted that over several months in 2014, IBEX captured the brightness of the ENAs that indicated an asymmetry in the heliosphere, and the team later realized that these discrepancies were inconsistent with models.
Moreover, when reviewing data from the Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 flights, scientists discovered that the heliosphere changed dramatically in a very short period of time. This helps explain why there is such a large gap between the two probes’ entrances in interstellar space, which is what happened in 2012 And the 2018, Straight. But this kind of motion in the heliosphere also goes against the models.
In a paper published October 10 in the journal natural astronomy (Opens in a new tab)The researchers described these discrepancies as “intriguing and potentially controversial”. They plan to continue studying the heliosphere, hoping to gain more insight from NASA Interstellar mapping and acceleration probea new and improved satellite that can detect antinuclear antibodies and is scheduled to launch in 2025, Zirnstein told Vice.
Until then, we can’t help but contemplate this frightening phenomenon that occurs in the painful depths Solar System.
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