Boundary of Earth’s heliosphere now mapped


used in 2009 NASA’s Interstellar Boundary Explorer, Also known as IBEX, astronomers have observed a strange ribbon-like structure dancing between our solar system and the rest of interstellar space.

The discovery of the IBEX Ribbon, invisible to both telescopes and the human eye, was one of scientists’ first attempts to learn more about our heliosphere, a bubble-like shield made up of solar winds.

a new study Published in the Astrophysical Journal, it maps all the boundaries of the shield and the data collected can be used to usher in a new era. heliophysics discovery.

“Most instruments that detect particles in space detect charged particles,” he says. Daniel Reisenfeld, a senior scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico and lead author of the study. But IBEX is unique.

It detects energetic neutral atoms or ENA ions that originally came from the sun but collided with interstellar electrons to neutralize them. These atoms can be ubiquitous in space and observing ENA fluxes over time can be a powerful imaging tool.

So what exactly was this mysterious ribbon? Scientists have since determined that what they’re seeing is a giant ENA field illuminating the night sky.

Using data collected in ENAs as they plot an 11-year solar cycle, the time between changes in the sun’s magnetic field, the researchers created a three-dimensional map of the entire heliosphere, which Reisenfeld says shields Earth and other planets from harmful radiation. .

“Our world is always bombarded by cosmic rays, galactic cosmic rays,” he says. These rays can subtly affect aircraft flying near the poles, often on journeys between Europe or Asia and the USA.

Scientists say that in order to study the astroospheres of other planets, we must first understand ourselves, what heliospheres are called when they surround other stars.

“Many physical models currently in development are based on the IBEX mission’s discoveries,” he says. Nikolai Pogorelov, He’s a professor of space science at the University of Alabama at Huntsville. “It’s just not experimental,” he says, adding that it “will be used for.” [a] true purpose.”


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