Friday, June 10, 2011

A Big Surprise from the Edge of the Solar System

June 9, 2011: NASA's Voyager probes are truly going where no one has gone before. Gliding silently toward the stars, 9 billion miles from Earth, they are beaming back news from the most distant, unexplored reaches of the solar system.
Mission scientists say the probes have just sent back some very big news indeed.
It's bubbly out there.
"The Voyager probes appear to have entered a strange realm of frothy magnetic bubbles," says astronomer Merav Opher of Boston University. "This is very surprising."
Big Surprise (splash, 550px)
A NASA video shows how magnetic bubbles might be formed at the edge of the solar system.
According to computer models, the bubbles are large, about 100 million miles wide, so it would take the speedy probes weeks to cross just one of them. Voyager 1 entered the "foam-zone" around 2007, and Voyager 2 followed about a year later. At first researchers didn't understand what the Voyagers were sensing--but now they have a good idea.
"The sun's magnetic field extends all the way to the edge of the solar system," explains Opher. "Because the sun spins, its magnetic field becomes twisted and wrinkled, a bit like a ballerina's skirt. Far, far away from the sun, where the Voyagers are now, the folds of the skirt bunch up."
Big Surprise (bubbles, 200px)
Magnetic bubbles at the edge of the solar system are about 100 million miles wide--similar to the distance between Earth and the sun. [more]
When a magnetic field gets severely folded like this, interesting things can happen. Lines of magnetic force criss-cross and "reconnect". (Magnetic reconnection is the same energetic process underlying solar flares.) The crowded folds of the skirt reorganize themselves, sometimes explosively, into foamy magnetic bubbles.
"We never expected to find such a foam at the edge of the solar system, but there it is!" says Opher's colleague, University of Maryland physicist Jim Drake.
Theories dating back to the 1950s had predicted a very different scenario: The distant magnetic field of the sun was supposed to curve around in relatively graceful arcs, eventually folding back to rejoin the sun. The actual bubbles appear to be self-contained and substantially disconnected from the broader solar magnetic field.
Energetic particle sensor readings suggest that the Voyagers are occasionally dipping in and out of the foam—so there might be regions where the old ideas still hold. But there is no question that old models alone cannot explain what the Voyagers have found.
Says Drake: "We are still trying to wrap our minds around the implications of these findings."
The structure of the sun's distant magnetic field—foam vs. no-foam—is of acute scientific importance because it defines how we interact with the rest of the galaxy. Researchers call the region where the Voyagers are now "the heliosheath." It is essentially the border crossing between the Solar System and the rest of the Milky Way. Lots of things try to get across—interstellar clouds, knots of galactic magnetism, cosmic rays and so on. Will these intruders encounter a riot of bubbly magnetism (the new view) or graceful lines of magnetic force leading back to the sun (the old view)?
Big Surprise (oldvsnew, 550px)
Old and new views of the heliosheath. Red and blue spirals are the gracefully curving magnetic field lines of orthodox models. New data from Voyager add a magnetic froth (inset) to the mix. Larger images: old, new.
The case of cosmic rays is illustrative. Galactic cosmic rays are subatomic particles accelerated to near-light speed by distant black holes and supernova explosions. When these microscopic cannonballs try to enter the solar system, they have to fight through the sun's magnetic field to reach the inner planets.
"The magnetic bubbles could be our first line of defense against cosmic rays," points out Opher. "We haven't figured out yet if this is a good thing or not."
On one hand, the bubbles would seem to be a very porous shield, allowing many cosmic rays through the gaps. On the other hand, cosmic rays could get trapped inside the bubbles, which would make the froth a very good shield indeed.
"We'll probably discover which is correct as the Voyagers proceed deeper into the froth and learn more about its organization1," says Opher. "This is just the beginning, and I predict more surprises ahead."

Author: Dr. Tony Phillips | Credit: Science@NASA
More Information
Footnote:1So far, much of the evidence for the bubbles comes from the Voyager energetic particle and flow measurements. Proof can also be obtained from the Voyager magnetic field observations and some of this data is also very suggestive. However, because the magnetic field is so weak, the data takes much longer to analyze with the appropriate care. Thus, unraveling the magnetic signatures of bubbles in the Voyager data is ongoing.
Voyager Interstellar Mission -- home page


Linus said...

Hi there ITLady,

I was searching for Dr Kate Paczek on Google & that led me to your blog...I used to see her for my chiropractic treatment at Premier in SS2 but then she moved to another place...but the people at Premier won't say where...and the current doctor is really too rough for my liking. Is she still in KL? If so, I would really appreciate if you could pass me her contact details..

RoyalTLady said...

Hi there Linus,

I am sorry for taking so much time to reply. I was moving houses and only today I came across Kate's contact number as I never kept it in my phone.

Here goes... 03- 9131 2549
03-9131 2409.

I know what you mean by the refusing to tell where Kate is and the meaning of rough...

Anyway, please call the clinic for your direction there.


Anonymous said...

If you'd prefer music, you must look at wireless headphones as soon as. Imagine the convenience when you wish to enjoy some music even so the kids are resting. You can want to put on a normal headphones and remain or stand alongside the stereo or get a couple wireless headphones and luxuriate in your favorite artists without chords! Even as you tune in to music on your pc, you do n't have to carry it around should you wanted to also work towards dinner while doing so.

Music lovers throughout the world are enjoying the ease made available from wireless headphones. The best element about them is not any cables and that's why no tangling in the individual! You can maneuver freely and the music moves to you. There have recently been several accidents where by you forget for the minute that you're attached to the stereo while using headphones and see it down with extreme movement. With wireless headphones you might have this freedom of getting off your stereo without nervous about bringing it lower. Now cook meals or vacuum the actual carpets while hearing your play checklist. With a disturbance reduction wireless headphone, you won��t possibly hear the machine go.

Wireless headphones may be yours for because less as $100. Some of them are considerably more expensive too. Keep in intellect though that studio professionals will not use wireless earphones but only talk with the regular types. Disc jockeys include the only music experts who use wireless headphones to get rid of all of that wire getting tangled within their equipment. The range of an good quality wireless headphone is in 150 feet. To be capable of enjoy music further than this range, you would should move the new music base closer to where you stand. As long while within the array, you could enjoy music inside garage or whilst gardening. No doubt next, these headphones add every one of the convenience and fun that you saw. For a songs lover, this is the most beneficial invention ever permitting you to be with ones music without concerning about disturbing anybody else in your house or having to keep near the tunes source. If you are currently searching for a wireless headphone for the personal use, take your the perfect time to find one that suits all of your requirements. Look for the mandatory range, features and the one which fits affordable.

Read More: [url=]best wireless headphone[/url]

Linus said...

Thank you RoyalITLady!

Anonymous said...

very good!

Anonymous said...

Saved as a favorite, I love your site!

Take a look at my page; headphones for tv

Anonymous said...

I like the helpful info you provide to your articles.
I will bookmark your blog and test once more here regularly.
I am slightly certain I'll be informed many new suff proper right here!
Best of luckk for the following!

My web site ... rg6 Coax cable

Anonymous said...

I'm really enjoing the design and layout of your site. It's a very easy on the eyes
which makes it much more pleasant for me to come here and visit
more often. Did you hire out a developer to create your
theme? Fantastic work!

Feel free to visit my page; rg6 coax cable

Anonymous said...

Hello I am so happy I found your site, I really found you by error,
while I was researching on Digg for something else, Regardless I am here now and would just
like to say thank you for a marvelous post and a all round enjoyable blog (I
also love the theme/design), I don't have time to browse it
all at the minute but I have book-marked it
and also added your RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be back to read a great deal
more, Please do keep up the superb work.

My web page AC Repair Simi Valley

Anonymous said...

I am now not certain the place you are getting your info, but great topic.
I needs to spend some time learning much more or
figuring out more. Thank you for magnificent information I was searching for this info for
my mission.

Also visit my blog: CT limousines for prom