Heliosphere's Long-Theorized Bow Shock Does Not Exist, New IBEX Data Show

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posted on May, 11 2012 @ 07:17 PM
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The heliosphere is the region of space dominated by the Sun that cocoons Earth and the other planets. Inflated by the million-mile-per-hour solar wind, the bubble-shaped heliosphere pushes its way through the galaxy. For a quarter century, researchers believed a bow “shock” formed ahead of the heliosphere as it moved through interstellar space — similar to the sonic boom made by a jet breaking the sound barrier. New data from NASA’s Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) shows that the heliosphere moves through space too slowly to form a bow shock. (Credit: Image courtesy of Southwest Research Institute)


ScienceDaily (May 10, 2012) — New results from NASA's Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) reveal that the bow shock, widely accepted by researchers to precede the heliosphere as it plows through tenuous gas and dust from the galaxy does not exist.

According to a paper published in the journal Science online, the latest refinements in relative speed and local interstellar magnetic field strength prevent the heliosphere, the magnetic "bubble" that cocoons Earth and the other planets, from developing a bow shock. The bow shock would consist of ionized gas or plasma that abruptly and discontinuously changes in density in the region of space that lies straight ahead of the heliosphere.

"The sonic boom made by a jet breaking the sound barrier is an earthly example of a bow shock," says Dr. David McComas, principal investigator of the IBEX mission and assistant vice president of the Space Science and Engineering Division at Southwest Research Institute (SwRI). "As the jet reaches supersonic speeds, the air ahead of it can't get out of the way fast enough. Once the aircraft hits the speed of sound, the interaction changes instantaneously, resulting in a shock wave."


Source: Science Daily

Well there you have it, it seems that the Solar System is traversing the Milky Way much slower than scientists originally thought (theorized). Our Sun apparently doesn't have the umph that other stars observed with a bow shock, instead it is said to have more of a wave.


we're finding that our Sun's interaction doesn't reach the critical threshold to form a shock, so a wave is a more accurate depiction of what's happening ahead of our heliosphere


From this source: Science News


The sun isn’t quite the speed demon scientists once suspected. It chugs around the galactic center at a relatively pokey 83,500 kilometers per hour — or roughly 11,000 kilometers per hour slower than expected, says a report appearing online May 10 in Science.

Though the ramifications of a missing bow shock are still unknown, scientists can now study more precisely how the heliosphere responds to the sun’s travels through different interstellar voids and clouds.


Again, there you have it, more mystery as our Solar System churns along in the many still unknown elements that make up the Milky Way galaxy and the Universe.

New discoveries are always great, especially when they contradict what was once thought to be the case. The Earth was once touted as flat, and now the heliosphere was once thought to have a bow shock.

I can't wait to see what's next!




posted on May, 11 2012 @ 07:30 PM
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Thanks for sharing that,Uber.
I was reading about that the other day,and the scientist were talking about having to re-write everything that they understood about the heliosphere.

Next thing you know,they will be telling us about the cosmic rays they didn't know about coming through our solar system.

LOL

Peace,
K



posted on May, 11 2012 @ 07:36 PM
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reply to post by kdog1982
 


Next thing you know,they will be telling us about the cosmic rays they didn't know about coming through our solar system.

They know about the galactic cosmic rays. What they don't know yet is what this revised model means about how they are affected by the heliosphere.

It would seem to me that at a basic level, lacking the increased density of a bow shock, we should be seeing more cosmic ray activity form "forward" than previous models would show.
edit on 5/11/2012 by Phage because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 11 2012 @ 07:46 PM
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reply to post by Phage
 


I am trying to get a better understanding of what a bow shock's function would be (and is) on stars that are known to have one.

Is it safe to assume that a bow shock is similar in nature to the Earth's Magnetosphere in that it protects our Solar System from harsh cosmic rays as the Earth's magnetosphere protects us from the Sun's radiation?



posted on May, 11 2012 @ 07:55 PM
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reply to post by kdog1982
 


I think in the coming years there are going to be quite a few things that need to be re-written. I hope I am still around when the first man sets foot on Mars. I doubt I'll still be here when we finally get a manned mission to Europa to see those discoveries, but hey, you never know what tomorrow brings.
edit on 5/11/2012 by UberL33t because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 11 2012 @ 08:07 PM
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reply to post by UberL33t
 


Is it safe to assume that a bow shock is similar in nature to the Earth's Magnetosphere in that it protects our Solar System from harsh cosmic rays as the Earth's magnetosphere protects us from the Sun's radiation?


Not that similar in nature but slightly similar in function.

The magnetosphere deflects some of the charged particles of the solar wind. Those it doesn't deflect it captures and traps (the Van Allen belts).

The heliosphere acts more like the Earth's atmosphere, absorbing the energy of galactic cosmic rays the same way the atmosphere absorbs the energy of solar particles and creates the aurora. But, since unlike the magnetosphere, there is no mechanism for the cosmic particles to be trapped and directed, the cosmic radiation would influence the entire heliosphere, not just the "poles". The presense of a bowshock would offer more density in the forward regions though, so may offer slightly more protection.



posted on May, 11 2012 @ 08:11 PM
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Originally posted by Phage
reply to post by kdog1982
 


Next thing you know,they will be telling us about the cosmic rays they didn't know about coming through our solar system.

They know about the galactic cosmic rays. What they don't know yet is what this revised model means about how they are affected by the heliosphere.

It would seem to me that at a basic level, lacking the increased density of a bow shock, we should be seeing more cosmic ray activity form "forward" than previous models would show.
edit on 5/11/2012 by Phage because: (no reason given)



Yes,I know they know.You called me out on it.
Waiting for someone to pick up on it.
It goes to show you how little we really know of how our universe works and how our little solar system is affected by the surrounding galactic particles .

But,we advance and learn.


As scientists incorporate this substantive new understanding into their physical models, they will also be waiting for more evidence from both IBEX and the Voyagers, which they hope will continue to send back observations for many years to come. "Imagine the point at which Voyager crosses the threshold of the heliopause and either does or does not see what IBEX is predicting," says Schwadron. "There will be enormous opportunities for scientific advancement."


phys.org...



posted on May, 11 2012 @ 08:15 PM
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reply to post by Phage
 


That's interesting, thank you for the breakdown.



posted on May, 11 2012 @ 08:30 PM
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Originally posted by Phage
reply to post by UberL33t
 


Is it safe to assume that a bow shock is similar in nature to the Earth's Magnetosphere in that it protects our Solar System from harsh cosmic rays as the Earth's magnetosphere protects us from the Sun's radiation?




The heliosphere acts more like the Earth's atmosphere, absorbing the energy of galactic cosmic rays the same way the atmosphere absorbs the energy of solar particles and creates the aurora. But, since unlike the magnetosphere, there is no mechanism for the cosmic particles to be trapped and directed, the cosmic radiation would influence the entire heliosphere, not just the "poles". The presense of a bowshock would offer more density in the forward regions though, so may offer slightly more protection.


This could all change because of the new findings?

You know if their are studies or theories on the same effect, bowshock, but on galaxies scales.
Does a galaxy create something while travelling through intergalactic space?



posted on May, 11 2012 @ 09:10 PM
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Originally posted by intergalactic fire

Originally posted by Phage
reply to post by UberL33t
 


Is it safe to assume that a bow shock is similar in nature to the Earth's Magnetosphere in that it protects our Solar System from harsh cosmic rays as the Earth's magnetosphere protects us from the Sun's radiation?




The heliosphere acts more like the Earth's atmosphere, absorbing the energy of galactic cosmic rays the same way the atmosphere absorbs the energy of solar particles and creates the aurora. But, since unlike the magnetosphere, there is no mechanism for the cosmic particles to be trapped and directed, the cosmic radiation would influence the entire heliosphere, not just the "poles". The presense of a bowshock would offer more density in the forward regions though, so may offer slightly more protection.


This could all change because of the new findings?

You know if their are studies or theories on the same effect, bowshock, but on galaxies scales.
Does a galaxy create something while travelling through intergalactic space?


Interesting question. I've never really thought about it, but you do pose a good question.
A Bow Shock is there when there is something for an object to be traveling through it at a high enough velocity. As stated, jets do this, because they are pushing through the air.

When I think of the Void (the space between galaxies) I think of it as very empty places, however, why they may be quite empty as compared to say space that is in a galaxy, it's not exactly empty:


Surrounding and stretching between galaxies, there is a rarefied plasma[85] that is organized in a cosmic filamentary structure.[86] This material is called the intergalactic medium (IGM). The density of the IGM is 5-200 times the average density of the Universe.[87] It consists mostly of ionized hydrogen; i.e. a plasma consisting of equal numbers of electrons and protons. As gas falls into the intergalactic medium from the voids, it heats up to temperatures of 105 K to 107 K,[88] which is high enough so that collisions between atoms have enough energy to cause the bound electrons to escape from the hydrogen nuclei; this is why the IGM is ionized.


Intergalactic Space

Whether or not this means our galaxy itself has a bow shock, I have no idea, and a quick search on the internet is not turning anything up (doesn't mean there's nothing there to learn, just that one would need to dig deeper than me.).

Maybe Phage or someone could enlighten us about this?



posted on May, 11 2012 @ 09:31 PM
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I imagine anything that moves has some form of bow shock going on...just may not be measurable though....
The galaxy must have some reaction to the travel through space....the same particles and cosmic clouds etc would effect them too....look at the milky way...shes eating another galaxy...oh my god..its US!
i am sure some kind of action is going on at the edges....
The speed of the solar system does not permit the bow shock to form, but the wave we make may have some different protective qualities to it for us in particular maybe....perhaps the sedate pace is condusive to life evolving on one or more of the sweet planets?



posted on May, 11 2012 @ 10:34 PM
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reply to post by eriktheawful
 



A Bow Shock is there when there is something for an object to be traveling through it at a high enough velocity


Remember this thread, more the picture of an artist's rendition?

NASA's Fermi Telescope Finds Giant Structure in our Galaxy



Now a picture of the Solar System and the once theorized bow shock:



The bubble factor share similarities at least.





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