Earth is the sixth planet from the edge of the solar system. In short, we are not too close to this cold, repellent frontier. However, we have sent out various spacecraft over the years. So do we have any idea what the edges of the solar system look like?
The answer is yes, but it’s an ongoing task. One of the latest developments, 3D map It revealed some secrets about this mysterious boundary, called the outer heliosphere, at the edge of the solar system, which took 13 years to create.
The outer heliosphere represents an area of space in which the solar wind, or the flow of charged particles emitted by the sun, is “deflected and covered” by interstellar radiation that penetrates the space of the sky beyond the solar system. Dan Reisenfeld said. He is a space science researcher at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. research On a 3D map. In other words, the solar wind meets interstellar particles and forms boundaries in the distance of the solar system.
Earthlings first glimpsed the outer edge of the solar system in 2012 when NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft, launched in 1977, crossed the interstellar space. According to NASA.. Voyager 2 wasn’t too late and repeated its feat in 2018. Voyager 1 and 2, equipped with a golden record full of songs by Bach, Louis Armstrong, and humpback whales, in addition to scientific instruments, reported a sudden decrease and a significant increase in solar particles, they left the solar system. With the galaxy radiation at that time According to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology..
The new 3D map reveals much more about the heliosphere. The inner layer surrounding the Sun and its planets is almost spherical and is thought to span about 90 astronomical units (AU) in all directions. (1 AU is the average distance between the Earth and the Sun, which is about 93 million miles, or 150 million kilometers.) The outer layer is much less symmetric. In one direction (the direction in which the constantly moving sun passes through the space in front of it and encounters cosmic rays), the outer heliosphere extends about 110 AU, but in the opposite direction it is much longer, at least 350 AU. Reisenfeld.
Its lack of symmetry is due to the movement of the Sun through the Milky Way as it experiences friction with the galaxy radiation in front of the Milky Way and then clears the space. “There is a lot of plasma [charged particles] In the interstellar medium, and … the rather round inner heliosphere, is an obstacle to the flow of this plasma flowing past it, “Reisenfeld told Live Science. The rocks in front were flooded with water, and the rocks in the back were quietly protected.
3D map measurements were collected using the Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX), a “bus tire size” launched in 2008. NASA..It is pronounced “like an animal,” Reisenfeld said. Ibex Goats known for them gravity-Trek on alpine cliffs. But what IBEX is really chasing is bats.
many Bat Hunt insects such as mosquito, Emit a pulse of sound and use the time delay of the echo to figure out the distance to the prey. Similarly, IBEX will detect solar wind particles bouncing off the edge of the solar system, allowing Reisenfeld and his colleagues to determine the distances involved by measuring the time it takes to make a round trip. “The sun sends a pulse … and we passively wait for a return signal from the outer heliosphere, and we use that time delay to determine where the outer heliosphere should be. “I will,” explained Reisenfeld.
When the sun goes around the outer edge Milky Way, The solar wind keeps cosmic rays away and forms a protective bubble. This is good for us because “the radiation can damage the spacecraft and can be a health hazard for astronauts.”
However, boundaries may not stay this way in the long run. Reisenfeld said there is a correlation between the strength of the solar wind and the number of spots in the sun. Sunspots are relatively dark patches that appear temporarily on the surface of the Sun as a result of strong internal magnetic disturbances. From 1645 to 1715, known to the Sun Watchers as the Maunder Minimum, there may have been very few sunspots and therefore only a weak solar wind.
“Sunspots have disappeared for almost a century, and if that happens, the shape of the heliosphere may have changed considerably,” Reisenfeld said. “Solar activity is fluctuating and there can be a Maunder Minimum at any time. Don’t worry. [heliosphere’s] The effectiveness of the shield can change over time. “
To learn more about the heliosphere, NASA will launch a new mission called. Interstellar mapping and acceleration probe (IMAP) 2025. If all goes according to plan, IMAP will reveal details about the interaction of the solar wind with cosmic rays at the edges of the solar system.
Originally published in Live Science.
What does the edge of the solar system look like?
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