The solar system may have the shape of a crescent

It may look like something you would see on a continental breakfast table.

But this crescent-shaped artist’s interpretation is actually how scientists think our solar system is formed, and now they may have the answer as to why.

Hydrogen particles entering it from the outside could play a crucial role in distorting the shape of the protective bubble that surrounds the sun and its planets, according to a new study.

This bubble, known as the heliosphere, acts to shield solar system objects from powerful cosmic radiation emanating from supernovae, the final outbursts of dying stars across the universe.

If we didn’t, scientists say there could be an increased risk to life on Earth and also to astronauts in space.

From the outside looking in: This crescent-shaped artist’s interpretation is actually how scientists think our solar system is formed, and now they may have the answer as to why

Twin jets of matter ¿ known as heliospheric jets ¿ emanate from the poles of the sun but, rather than shoot straight out, they bend to form the tails of the solar system and resemble the tips of a crescent (pictured)

Twin jets of matter – known as heliospheric jets – emanate from the sun’s poles but, rather than shoot straight out, they curve to form the tails of the solar system and look like the tips of a crescent (pictured)

WHAT IS THE HELIOSPHERE?

The sun sends out a constant stream of solar material called solar wind, which creates a bubble around the planets called the heliosphere.

The heliosphere acts as a shield that protects the planets from interstellar radiation.

NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft crossed the outer edge of the heliosphere in November 2018.

This boundary, called the heliopause, is where the warm solar wind meets the cold, dense interstellar medium.

The heliosphere is created by the wind and radiation from the sun as it flows into interstellar space.

Twin jets of matter – known as heliospheric jets – emanate from the sun’s poles but, rather than shooting straight out, they bend to form the tails of the solar system and resemble the tips of a crescent.

Now, a study conducted by Boston University has found the reason why this heliosphere is shaped like a paste, and it’s all related to neutral hydrogen particles from interstellar space.

Named because they have equal amounts of positive and negative charge, so carrying no charge, these particles make heliospheric jets unstable and cause them to bend inward.

“How is it relevant for society? The bubble around us, produced by the sun, provides shielding from galactic cosmic rays, and its shape may affect how those rays enter the heliosphere,” said University of Maryland astrophysicist James Drake. .

“There are a lot of theories but, of course, how galactic cosmic rays can penetrate can be affected by the structure of the heliosphere – does it have wrinkles and folds and that sort of thing?”

The heliosphere acts to shield objects in the solar system from powerful cosmic radiation emanating from supernovae, the final outbursts of dying stars across the universe.

The heliosphere acts to shield objects in the solar system from powerful cosmic radiation emanating from supernovae, the final outbursts of dying stars across the universe.

Now, a study by Boston University has found the reason this heliosphere is shaped into a pastry shape, and it all has to do with neutral hydrogen particles from interstellar space.

Now, a study by Boston University has found the reason this heliosphere is shaped into a pastry shape, and it all has to do with neutral hydrogen particles from interstellar space.

Drake was part of a team of astrophysicists who conducted a study led by Merav Opher of Boston University.

Because we are inside the heliosphere, this boundary of solar influence is not actually visible, making it difficult to determine its shape.

Originally, scientists thought it was shaped like a comet, with a round edge and a long tail behind.

But data from three spacecraft that have traveled to the far reaches of the solar system – two Voyager and New Horizons probes – have revealed it’s more of a crescent.

The question Opher and his team wanted to answer the question of why it has this shape and how heliospheric jets become unstable.

“Why do stars and black holes – and our own sun – eject unstable jets?” Opher said.

“We see these jets projecting in the form of irregular columns, and [astrophysicists] wondered for years why these forms present instabilities.

Using a computer model, the researchers found that when the neutral hydrogen particles were removed from the simulation, the jets coming from the sun became

Using a computer model, the researchers found that when the neutral hydrogen particles were removed from the simulation, the jets coming from the sun became “super stable”.

But when they were put back in place,

But when they were put back in place, “things start to bend, the central axis starts to wiggle, and that means something inside the heliospheric jets is getting very unstable,” the researchers said.

Using a computer model, the researchers found that when the neutral hydrogen particles were removed from the simulation, the jets coming from the sun became “super stable”.

But when they were put back in place, “things start to bend, the central axis starts to wiggle, and that means something inside the heliospheric jets is getting very unstable,” Opher said.

The researchers said this happens due to the interaction of neutral hydrogen particles with ionized matter in the heliosheath – the outer region of the heliosphere.

It generates a Rayleigh-Taylor instability, or an instability that occurs at the interface between two fluids of different densities when the lighter fluid pushes into the heavier one.

This in turn produces large-scale turbulence in the tails of the heliosphere.

“The universe is not silent. Our BU model does not try to eliminate chaos, which allowed me to identify the cause [of the heliosphere’s instability]…. Neutral hydrogen particles, says Opher.

“This discovery is a major breakthrough, it allows us to discover why our model gets its distinct crescent-shaped heliosphere and why other models don’t.”

The study was published in The Astrophysical Journal.

WHERE ARE THE TRAVELERS NOW?

Voyager 1 is currently 14 billion miles from Earth, traveling north through space.

The probe returned data to NASA once it reached interstellar space that cosmic rays are up to four times more abundant in this region, beyond the direct influence of the sun, than in the vicinity of the Earth.

This suggests that the heliosphere, the region of space that contains the planets of our solar system, could act as a radiation shield.

Meanwhile, Voyager 2 is now 11.77 billion miles from Earth, traveling south toward the interstellar region.

The contrasting locations of the two spacecraft allow scientists to compare two regions of space where the heliosphere interacts with the interstellar medium.

Voyager 2 traversing the interstellar medium allows scientists to sample the medium from two different locations at the same time.

Arline J. Mercier