IBEX sees heliosphere boundary structure

Nasa’s Interstellar Boundary Explorer (Ibex) spacecraft has identified unexpected evidence of structure at the farthest reaches of our solar system, at the edge of our heliosphere – a crucial layer of protection against galactic cosmic rays. The structure, a “bright, winding ribbon” which seems to be ordered by the galactic magnetic field just outside the heliosphere, has also been confirmed by observations from Cassini in orbit around Saturn. And for the geeks out there, you know who you are, here’s a detailed Nasa press conference with the scientists involved.
Observant viewers will have spotted that one of the extreme examples of a visible heliosphere used in the press conference was an image from NASA’s Galaxy Evolution Explorer of the “faster than a speeding bullet” star, Mira.

Most of the links at my previous post on Mira no longer work, so here’s the animation again showing the heliosphere there. Video Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/R. Hurt (SSC).

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  • joeCanuck

    We need loads of these “small” missions. Forget going back to the moon; going to Mars is a science fiction fantasy.

  • joeCanuck

    Decrying human missions, of course.

  • Greenflag

    For whatever reason the soundtrack on the above was very slow and intermittent -don’t know if it was an issue for anybody else .

    Coincidentally I was just reading up on the powerful protection the Earth’s magnetic field provides us ‘earthlings ‘ . What we call the Northern Lights are the deflections of particles emanating from ‘solar ‘ flares as they strike the earth head on and are redirected to the polar regions ..

    It’s conceivable that a large enough solar flare say 100 times the size of present emissions could or would penetrate the earths ‘magnetic ‘ resistance and wipe out all life forms on the surface of our planet instantly . What would be the effect of ‘cosmic rays ‘ travelling at the speeds mentioned should they strike the earth ? Well we’d probably never know what hit us.

    And now we learn if I’m interpreting the video above properly (apologies if I’m not ) that the entire solar sytem via it’s heliosphere has an inbuilt ‘ protection’ against dangerous cosmic ‘rays ‘ provided by the rubbing up of the heliosphere against the interstellar galactic ‘wind ‘?

    Perhaps somebody up /out there likes us enough to ensure we are not all zapped into atomic dust particles by a stray gamma burst ?

    On the other hand our Sun the giver of life , may also on the other hand have been the bringer of mass exterminations . The Lord moves in mysterious ways as believers would say 🙁

    Of the 5 major extinctions and dozen or so minor mass extinctions it’s not definitely proven in all cases, that the cause was abrupt climate change (in the geological sense that is ) and or oextra terrestrial comets /asteroidal impacts /volcanic eruptions / extended ice ages etc . As we’ve been studying the Sun’s solar flares just since the space age began which in comparison to the age of the Sun is .0000001% of the time -it’s possible that extra large solar flares erupting every hundred or so million years may have been the culprit in some of the earthly mass extinctions ?

    How would we know ? We would’nt because such an extinction would leave little if any evidence but it could explain some of the gaps in the ‘extinction ‘ events .

    Thank you Pete for once again providing us all with something to be scared about 😉 while at the same reassuring us with a little new found heliospheric relief 😉

    As the Germans would say ‘Erst Zucker dann Pfeitsche’ or is it the other way around ?

    And less of this geek business – I don’t know about joe canuck and others but I’m sure many of us who enjoy your cosmological inserts do not take kindly to being stereotyped as geeks 😉