Chris McKitterick (mckitterick) wrote,
Chris McKitterick
mckitterick

Astro-image of the day: the Solar System is "dented"

Well, at least the heliosheath is. What's a heliosheath, you ask? First to help explain, here's an image showing the two Voyager spacecraft leaving the Solar System (planetary orbits marked within the blue sphere), squashed to one side by the interplanetary magnetic field (in orange).

Click the image to see the story.

And here is the explanation: "The solar wind is a thin gas of electrically charged particles (plasma) blown into space by the sun. The solar wind blows in all directions, carving a bubble into interstellar space that extends past the orbit of Pluto. This bubble is called the heliosphere, and Voyager 1 was the first spacecraft to explore its outer layer, when it crossed into the heliosheath in December 2004. As Voyager 1 made this historic passage, it encountered the shock wave that surrounds our solar system called the solar wind termination shock, where the solar wind is abruptly slowed by pressure from the gas and magnetic field in interstellar space."

Best,
Chris
Tags: astronomy
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