Now that is interesting;
Because these particles move at a small fraction of the speed of light, their journeys from the sun to the edge of the heliosphere and back again take years. So when the number of particles coming from the sun changes—usually as a result of its 11-year activity cycle—it takes years before that’s reflected in the amount of neutral atoms shooting back into the solar system.
Cassini’s new measurements of these neutral atoms revealed something unexpected—the particles coming from the tail of the heliosphere reflect the changes in the solar cycle almost exactly as fast as those coming from the nose of the heliosphere.
A compact model of the heliosphere, supported by the latest data [Credit: Dialynas, et al.]
It seems the interstellar magnetic field is a lot more powerful than scientists expected, as Phys.org reports.
New data from NASA’s Cassini mission, combined with measurements from the two Voyager spacecraft and NASA’s Interstellar Boundary Explorer, or IBEX, suggests that our sun and planets are surrounded by a giant, rounded system of magnetic field from the sun—calling into question the alternate view of the solar magnetic fields trailing behind the sun in the shape of a long comet tail.
The sun releases a constant outflow of magnetic solar material—called the solar wind—that fills the inner solar system, reaching far past the orbit of Neptune. This solar wind creates a bubble, some 23 billion miles across, called the heliosphere. Our entire solar system, including the heliosphere, moves through interstellar space.
The prevalent picture of the…
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