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Heliosphere

The heliosphere is a bubble of charged particles in the space surrounding the Solar System, blown into the interstellar medium (the hydrogen and helium gas that permeates the galaxy) by the solar wind.
Aug 13, 2012 11:50 IST
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Heliosphere
The heliosphere is a bubble of charged particles in the space surrounding the Solar System, "blown" into the interstellar medium (the hydrogen and helium gas that permeates the galaxy) by the solar wind. Although electrically neutral atoms from interstellar volume can penetrate this bubble, virtually all of the material in the heliosphere emanates from the Sun itself.
For the first ten billion kilometers of its radius, the solar wind travels at over 1,000,000 km/h it begins to interact with the interstellar medium, it slows down before finally ceasing altogether. The point where the solar wind begins to slow is called the termination shock; then the solar wind continues to slow as it passes through the heliosheath leading to a boundary where the interstellar medium and solar wind pressures balance called the heliopause.
Solar wind
The solar wind consists of particles (ionized atoms from the solar corona) and fields (in particular, magnetic fields). As the Sun rotates once in approximately 27 days, the magnetic field transported by the solar wind gets wrapped into a spiral. Variations in the Sun's magnetic field are carried outward by the solar wind and can produce magnetic storms in the Earth's own magnetosphere.
Structure
The heliospheric current sheet is a ripple in the heliosphere created by the Sun's rotating magnetic field. Extending throughout the heliosphere, it is considered the largest structure in the Solar System and is said to resemble a "ballerina's skirt"
Abstract
As the Sun moves through the local interstellar medium, its supersonic, ionized solar wind carves out a cavity called the heliosphere. Recent observations from the Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) spacecraft show that the relative motion of the Sun with respect to the interstellar medium is slower and in a somewhat different direction than previously thought. Here, we provide combined consensus values for this velocity vector and show that they have important implications for the global interstellar interaction. In particular, the velocity is almost certainly slower than the fast magnetosonic speed, with no bow shock forming ahead of the heliosphere, as was widely expected in the past.

Heliosphere

The heliosphere is a bubble of charged particles in the space surrounding the Solar System, "blown" into the interstellar medium (the hydrogen and helium gas that permeates the galaxy) by the solar wind. Although electrically neutral atoms from interstellar volume can penetrate this bubble, virtually all of the material in the heliosphere emanates from the Sun itself.

For the first ten billion kilometers of its radius, the solar wind travels at over 1,000,000 km/h it begins to interact with the interstellar medium, it slows down before finally ceasing altogether. The point where the solar wind begins to slow is called the termination shock; then the solar wind continues to slow as it passes through the heliosheath leading to a boundary where the interstellar medium and solar wind pressures balance called the heliopause.

Solar wind

The solar wind consists of particles (ionized atoms from the solar corona) and fields (in particular, magnetic fields). As the Sun rotates once in approximately 27 days, the magnetic field transported by the solar wind gets wrapped into a spiral. Variations in the Sun's magnetic field are carried outward by the solar wind and can produce magnetic storms in the Earth's own magnetosphere.

Structure

The heliospheric current sheet is a ripple in the heliosphere created by the Sun's rotating magnetic field. Extending throughout the heliosphere, it is considered the largest structure in the Solar System and is said to resemble a "ballerina's skirt"

Abstract

As the Sun moves through the local interstellar medium, its supersonic, ionized solar wind carves out a cavity called the heliosphere. Recent observations from the Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) spacecraft show that the relative motion of the Sun with respect to the interstellar medium is slower and in a somewhat different direction than previously thought. Here, we provide combined consensus values for this velocity vector and show that they have important implications for the global interstellar interaction. In particular, the velocity is almost certainly slower than the fast magnetosonic speed, with no bow shock forming ahead of the heliosphere, as was widely expected in the past.