Strange Magnetic Bubbles at the Edge of the Solar System

Strange Magnetic Bubbles at the Edge of the Solar System

The two Voyager spacecraft have been traveling
away from Earth for more than 33 years and they are finally in the outer edge of the
solar system. This boundary is marked by the outer reaches of the sun’s magnetic field
and solar wind, which form an enormous expanse called the heliosphere. As the solar wind travels out from the sun,
it pushes against the galactic medium and abruptly slows down. This is called the termination
shock. Outside this is the heliosheath, where the solar wind slows to a stop and the magnetic
field is bent back by the ionized interstellar wind. The sun’s magnetic field spins opposite directions
on the north and south poles, creating a sheet where the two spins meet. This sheet gently
ripples as it travels outward and the ripples get bigger as they go. When this sheet reaches
the termination shock, it starts to compress, like water waves hitting a wall. The Voyager
spacecraft have now found that after the termination shock, these stacked-up ripples of magnetic
field form bubbles, shown here as a computer simulation. This discovery has prompted a complete revision
of what the heliosheath region looks like. The smooth streamlined look is gone, replaced
with a bubbly, frothy outer layer. This new layer also changes our understanding of how
extremely fast-moving particles called cosmic rays enter our solar system. When they arrive
at the bubble region, they slowly move from bubble to bubble until they can reach smooth
magnetic field lines and follow them toward the sun. The nature of the bubble region explains why
Voyager II has been seeing variations in the number of energetic particles compared to
Voyager I. Because of its path, Voyager II has been passing in and out of the bubble
region. When it is in the region Voyager II sees many trapped cosmic rays and electrons.
When it is out of the region the spacecraft sees fewer. Even as the Voyagers answer questions about
our solar system, they raise others. For example, scientists aren’t clear yet how the bubbly
heliosheath is linked to the ribbon feature discovered by IBEX and Cassini. This ribbon
shows the emission of energetic particles and seems to indicate some interaction with
interstellar space. In the meantime, the Voyager spacecraft continue sending back data, and,
after three decades, they still have a unique perspective to offer about the universe we
live in.

2 thoughts on “Strange Magnetic Bubbles at the Edge of the Solar System

  1. Does any one see Electric universe model in here besides me. It’s about time we throw away the standard model and accept electromagnetic forces as the ruling forces of our universe.

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