Scientists recently discovered that something unusual and spooky is happening at the edge of the solar system. the heliopause which stood as the boundary between the heliosphere and the interstellar medium appears to be creating oblique angles in an unusual manner. Keep in mind that the heliosphere exists as the bubble of solar wind that surrounds the solar system, while the interstellar medium is the material that exist between stars in the galaxy.
Hence, the heliopause is an important region that separates the solar system from interstellar space. But the concept of heliopause changing its shape has been in existence for a longer time. In fact, scientists have discovered that heliopause changing its shape over the past date. They were able to make this discovery from the data obtained while Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 were crossing the heliosphere.
Keep in mind that only these two spacecraft have successfully explored the heliosphere and crossed into interstellar space. However, NASA’s Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) satellite has also reached the heliosphere to study the energetic neutral atoms (ENAs) created during the interaction between solar winds and the Interstellar medium. Using the data obtained from these spacecraft, scientists concluded that the shape of the heliopause is not static.
“The Voyager spacecraft provide the only direct, in situ measurement of the locations of these boundaries. But only at one point in space and time,” Eric Zirnstein, a space physicist at Princeton University, explained in an email to Vice.
How Scientist discover the latest Unusual Activities in the Heliopause
Since the IBEX satellite was launched on October 19, 2008, the spacecraft has been returning great data to scientists on Earth. In fact, the data provided by IBEX has helped scientists understand numerous mysterious activities going on at the edge of the solar system. Researchers recently used the data obtained from the IBEX to design models that predict the changes occurring in heliopause. At this region in space, the solar winds and the interstellar medium push and pull each other producing a fascinating moving boundary.
In 2014, the IBEX satellite spent months capturing the brightening of ENAs. The data returned by the satellite in the past decade reveals the presence of indicated asymmetries in the heliopause. However, the recent model created by scientists seems to be contradicting the past discoveries as the previously discovered asymmetries were not in harmony with the models. Scientists further consulted the data of the heliopause as captured by the Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 to discover that this region changes in an extremely short duration. In fact, the dramatic changes going on within the heliopause made the voyager 1 and 2 enter interstellar space in 2012 and 2018 respectively.
On October 10, researchers that participated in this recent study published a paper in the journal Nature Astronomy with the title, “intriguing and potentially controversial.” These scientists do not want to stop their studies at this point. They hope to advance the study in the heliopause using NASA’s Interstellar Mapping and Acceleration Probe which will be designed as a modern and improved satellite to observe the ENAs. Zirnstein revealed to Vice that this futuristic satellite will be launched in 2025. At the launch of this advanced satellite, scientists will learn new information about what causes the changes in heliopause. What do you think about this recent discovery?