The twin Voyager spacecraft have beamed back a set of data from farthest edges of our solar system.
The farther the magnetic field extends out from the sun, the weirder it behaves, the study suggests.
At the far end of the solar system is the heliosphere, a tunnel created by solar wind. Both Voyager Spacecraft are in the heliosphere’s outermost layer now, the heliosheath, where that solar wind is slowed by high-pressured interstellar gas. Data suggest that inside the heliosheath is a sea of frenzied bubbles, sausage-like in shape, each bubble about 100 million miles wide. That’s roughly the same as the distance between the earth and the sun.
Merav Opher, a Boston University astronomer and the study’s lead author described it as “a really agitated Jacuzzi.”
The theory is based on a computer model that analyzed electron readings from the Voyager spacecraft. The model suggests that dips and swells in the amount of electrons encountered by the two spacecraft was caused by them moving in and out of the bubbles.
The bubbles are believed to be part of the sun’s magnetic field: charged particles of ionized gas, which stretch and twist as they move out toward the edge of the solar system and into the heliosphere. The data were released Thursday in the Astrophysical Journal.
“We’re pretty confident [data] is telling us that there is a major change in the structure of the magnetic field,” Opher said.
The bubbles are believed to caused by lines of magnetic force explosively reorganizing themselves, scientists say.
Scientists ultimately want to know what happens when galactic cosmic rays and other subatomic particles from interstellar space enter our solar system via the heliosphere. “We still have to explore the details of how the galactic rays will get across the heliosphere, and how they’re going to wander through those bubbles,” said James Drake, a University of Maryland physics professor.
The bubbles cause no danger for those living on earth and no danger for the spacecraft, scientists say. “But if you’re headed to Mars, you really do have to care about the radiation environment in the heliosphere,” said Eugene Parkerof the University of Chicago.
After 33 years charging through the solar system, the two Voyager spacecraft are now about 10 billion miles from Earth. Both spacecraft contain instruments that measure energetic particles and send that data back to Earth.
Next step, Opher said, is to send better instruments out to interstellar space. “Voyager was designed in the late ’60s with wonderful instruments,” she said. “But we need more sensitive instruments. We’re just scraping the surfae of how sensitive is the heliosheath.”
Jenny Marder for PBS
5 thoughts on “SPACE BUBBLES”
Pics are Photos and this is common news We want more of the same Space is a jammed place and humans came from space bubbles and other beings obviously the Bible has more interesting paranormal yet looking up can be non Religious just it has changed our technology cools satelites with liquid and Green Energy is Our ticket out of this demand for debt in many countries I like californias Idea build roads stop traffic for 1 1/2 years there ajustments needed but san Andreas Fault is so there beware I am aware too .Saw a bubble in church like this its also 2 feet tall also called tornado lash ball.
NASA is a government agency that should always be super funded. I would more than happily choose to have tax dollars spent there than on foreign aid to every county on earth. I know it often seems like a waste of money, especially in an economic downturn, but discovering just what space is, what quirks are out there we haven't found yet and can't understand now, and what that means to us scientifically, is an investment in the future we have to make.
Whean you say gas, do you mean the same stuff as our atmosphrere? If that is true, could there be life that far out?
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