Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

IBEX Satellite Finds Ribbon-like Structure At Edge Of Heliosphere

Date:
October 16, 2009
Source:
DOE/Los Alamos National Laboratory
Summary:
The invisible structures of space are becoming less so, as scientists look out to the far edges of the solar wind bubble that separates our solar system from the interstellar cloud through which it flies. Using the High Energy Neutral Atom Imager, the NASA Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) mission has sent back data that indicates a "noodle soup" of solar material has accumulated at the outer fringes of the heliosphere bubble.

Voyagers 1 and 2 reached the termination shock in 2005 and 2007, respectively, taking point measurements as they left the solar system. Before IBEX, there was only data from these two points at the edge of the solar system. While exciting and valuable, the data they provided about this region raised more questions than they resolved. IBEX has filled in the entire interaction region, revealing surprising details completely unpredicted by any theories. IBEX completes one all-sky map every six months. IBEX completed the first map of the complex interactions occurring at the edge of the solar system (shown) this summer.
Credit: SwRI

The invisible structures of space are becoming less so, as scientists look out to the far edges of the solar wind bubble that separates our solar system from the interstellar cloud through which it flies. Using the High Energy Neutral Atom Imager, led by Los Alamos National Laboratory, the NASA Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) mission has sent back data that indicates a "noodle soup" of solar material has accumulated at the outer fringes of the heliosphere bubble.

Related Articles


As the solar wind streams out far beyond Pluto, racing a million miles per hour, it reaches the edge of our bubble and collides with the material between the stars, the interstellar medium. A shock wave forms at that intersection point. The Los Alamos camera is designed to detect the particles that are heated and stream away from that boundary, specifically the density and temperature of atoms that form the core of that layer. The High Energy Neutral Atom Imager instrument is particularly important because its design parameters are well matched to the temperature of most of the soup; about a million degrees centigrade (1.8 million degrees Fahrenheit).

One of the five IBEX papers appearing in Science this week, LANL's lead contribution is "Structures and Spectral Variations of the Outer Heliosphere in IBEX Energetic Neutral Atom Maps." In the paper, author Herbert Funsten notes "We have discovered an arc-shaped ribbon of high-pressure material that looks to be piled-up material from the Sun. The IBEX maps and the discovery of the ribbon are completely different from what we thought it should look like."

"We were expecting tie-dye and instead found noodle soup," Funsten said.

What the mission has not found is what they were expecting, that is, evidence of large-scale dynamic processes that might be analogous to storms and tornados from the collision of a cold front and a warm front. A striking result is that "our maps show structure and energy spectra that are completely different from what any model has predicted," he noted.

"The ribbon follows a circular arc of high pressure that we believe is centered on the direction of the magnetic field of the interstellar cloud through which we are moving," Funsten said. This magnetic field seems to fundamentally organize the interaction region.

The results of IBEX not only reveal fundamental properties of the heliosheath but also provide key information about the properties of the interstellar cloud through which our galaxy is moving. We will be moving out of the cloud in about 10,000 years; the IBEX results will help us understand how the Earth's space environment might be different when this happens.

IBEX is the latest in NASA's series of low-cost, rapidly developed Small Explorers space missions. Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas, leads and developed the mission with a team of national and international partners. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, manages the Explorers Program for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

For IBEX, SwRI is partnering with Orbital Science Corporation, Los Alamos National Laboratory, University of California, Riverside, Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Center, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, the University of New Hampshire, the Applied Physics Laboratory and the University of Southern California. The team also includes a number of American and international scientists from universities and other institutions, as well as Chicago's Adler Planetarium, which is leading education and public outreach for the mission.

See more about IBEX online at http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/ibex/index.html


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by DOE/Los Alamos National Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

DOE/Los Alamos National Laboratory. "IBEX Satellite Finds Ribbon-like Structure At Edge Of Heliosphere." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 October 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091016143059.htm>.
DOE/Los Alamos National Laboratory. (2009, October 16). IBEX Satellite Finds Ribbon-like Structure At Edge Of Heliosphere. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091016143059.htm
DOE/Los Alamos National Laboratory. "IBEX Satellite Finds Ribbon-like Structure At Edge Of Heliosphere." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091016143059.htm (accessed November 28, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Space & Time News

Friday, November 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Scientists Find Invisible Space Shield Protecting Earth

Scientists Find Invisible Space Shield Protecting Earth

Newsy (Nov. 27, 2014) An invisible barrier is keeping dangerous super fast electrons from interfering with our atmosphere, but scientists aren't entirely sure how. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
NASA's First 3-D Printer In Space Creates Its First Object

NASA's First 3-D Printer In Space Creates Its First Object

Newsy (Nov. 26, 2014) The International Space Station is now using a proof-of-concept 3D printer to test additive printing in a weightless, isolated environment. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Feast Your Eyes: Lamb Chop Sent Into Space from UK

Feast Your Eyes: Lamb Chop Sent Into Space from UK

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Nov. 25, 2014) Take a stab at this -- stunt video shows a lamb chop's journey from an east London restaurant over 30 kilometers into space. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Soyuz Spacecraft Docks With International Space Station: NASA

Soyuz Spacecraft Docks With International Space Station: NASA

AFP (Nov. 24, 2014) A Russian Soyuz spacecraft carrying Italy's first female astronaut safely docks with the International Space Station, according to NASA. Duration: 00:40 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins