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NASA releases new photo showing shape of bubble surrounding our solar system

Scientists have developed a new puffy model for the shape of the Sun's heliosphere or the magnetic bubble that surrounds our solar system.

India TV News Desk India TV News Desk
New Delhi Updated on: August 08, 2020 16:40 IST
NASA, solar system, sun, magnetic field
Image Source : OPHER, ET AL

An updated model suggests the shape of the Sun’s bubble of influence, the heliosphere (seen in yellow), maybe a deflated croissant shape, rather than the long-tailed comet shape suggested by other research.

Scientists have developed a new puffy model for the shape of the Sun's heliosphere or the magnetic bubble that surrounds our solar system. According to NASA scientists, they have developed a new prediction of the shape of the bubble surrounding our solar system using a model developed with data from NASA missions that poses a question — Do we live in a bubble-shaped like a deflated croissant?

According to NASA, all the planets of our solar system are encased in a magnetic bubble, carved out in space by the Sun’s constantly outflowing material, the solar wind. Outside this bubble is the interstellar medium — the ionized gas and magnetic field that fills the space between stellar systems in our galaxy.

So, one question scientists have tried to answer for years is on the shape of this bubble, which travels through space as our Sun orbits the center of our galaxy. Traditionally, scientists have thought of the heliosphere as a comet shape, with a rounded leading edge, called the nose, and a long tail trailing behind.

India Tv - NASA, Solar system, magnetic field

Image Source : NASA/CASALEGNO/GALEX

To understand the potential habitability of exoplanets, it can help scientists to know if our heliosphere more closely resembles the relatively shortened astrosphere of BZ Cam (left), the long astrosphere of Mira (right), or has another shape entirely.

Research published in Nature Astronomy in March and featured on the journal’s cover for July provides an alternative shape that lacks this long tail: the deflated croissant.

The shape of the heliosphere is difficult to measure from within. The closest edge of the heliosphere is more than ten billion miles from Earth. Only the two Voyager spacecraft have directly measured this region, leaving us with just two points of ground-truth data on the shape of the heliosphere.

(Inputs from NASA)

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