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Scientists made the discovery by using a new computer model, which is based on data from NASA's twin Voyager probes. The unmanned Voyager 1 and Voyager 2, which launched in 1977, are plying the outer reaches of our solar system, a region known as the heliosheath. The new discovery suggests that researchers will need to revise their views about the solar system's edge, NASA officials said. A more detailed picture of this region is key to our understanding of how fast-moving particles known as cosmic rays are spawned, and how they reach near-Earth space.
The heliosheath is the region of the heliosphere beyond the termination shock. Here the wind is slowed, compressed and made turbulent by its interaction with the interstellar medium. Its distance from the Sun is approximately 80 to 100 astronomical units (AU) at its closest point; however, the heliosheath is shaped like the coma of a comet, and trails several times that distance in the direction opposite to the Sun's path through space. Scientific results in 2009 showed that model may be incorrect
The point where the solar wind slows down is the termination shock; the point where the interstellar medium and solar wind pressures balance is called the heliopause; the point where the interstellar medium, traveling in the opposite direction, slows down as it collides with the heliosphere is the bow shock.
A strong magnetic field just outside the solar system could press against the heliosphere and interact with it in unknown ways. Will this strengthen our natural shielding—or weaken it? No one can say.
When you go places you've never gone, don't be surprised if you see things you've never seen. The voyagers are entering unexplored territory, so frontier discoveries made by them are exciting!
Originally posted by anon72
Help... I will be following this one on Thursday.
Scientists made the discovery by using a new computer model, which is based on data from NASA's twin Voyager probes.
Nice artwork, but I don't see any bubbles.
Originally posted by TheUniverse
Termination Shock Heliopause and Bow Shock
Voyager 1 was the first spacecraft to explore its outer layer, when it crossed into the heliosheath in December 2004. As Voyager 1 made this historic passage, it encountered the shock wave that surrounds our solar system called the solar wind termination shock, where the solar wind is abruptly slowed by pressure from the gas and magnetic field in interstellar space.
Even though Voyager 2 is the second spacecraft to cross the shock, it is scientifically exciting for a couple of reasons. The Voyager 2 spacecraft has a working plasma science instrument that can directly measure the velocity, density and temperature of the solar wind. This instrument is no longer working on Voyager 1, and estimates of the solar wind speed had to be made indirectly. Secondly, Voyager 1 may have had only a single shock crossing, and it happened during a data gap. But Voyager 2 had at least five shock crossings over a couple of days (the shock "sloshes" back and forth like surf on a beach, allowing multiple crossings), and three of them are clearly in the data. They show us an unusual shock. In a normal shock wave, fast-moving material slows down and forms a denser, hotter region as it encounters an obstacle. However, Voyager 2 found a much lower temperature beyond the shock than was predicted.