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Voyager Satellites Find Magnetic Bubbles at Edge of Solar System

The sun's magnetic field spins opposite directions on the north and south poles. These oppositely pointing magnetic fields are separated by a layer of current called the heliospheric current sheet. Due to the tilt of the magnetic axis in relation to the axis of rotation of the Sun, the heliospheric current sheet flaps like a flag in the wind. The flapping current sheet separates regions of oppositely pointing magnetic field, called sectors. As the solar wind speed decreases past the termination shock, the sectors squeeze together, bringing regions of opposite magnetic field closer to each other. The Voyager spacecraft have now found that when the separation of sectors becomes very small, the sectored magnetic field breaks up into a sea of nested "magnetic bubbles" in a phenomenon called magnetic reconnection. The region of nested bubbles is carried by the solar wind to the north and south filling out the entire front region of the heliopause and the sector region in the heliosheath.

This discovery has prompted a complete revision of what the heliosheath region looks like. The smooth, streamlined look is gone, replaced with a bubbly, frothy outer layer.

For animations about the Voyager magnetic bubbles discovery, go here.

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More information on this topic available at:
http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/voyager/heliosphere-surprise.html

Short narrated video about Voyager bubble region discovery.    Short narrated video about Voyager bubble region discovery.

For complete transcript, click here.
Duration: 2.7 minutes
Available formats:
  1280x720 (59.94 fps) QT         2 GB
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  1280x720 (29.97 fps) QT         132 MB
  960x720 (29.97 fps) MPEG-4   97 MB
  1280x720 (30 fps) QT         81 MB
  1280x720 (29.97 fps) MPEG-4   47 MB
  1280x720 (59.94 fps) QT         40 MB
  640x360 (29.97 fps) MPEG-4   32 MB
  320x240 (29.97 fps) MPEG-4   16 MB
  320x180 (29.97 fps) MPEG-4   13 MB
  1280x720   TIFF         3 MB
  1280x720   JPEG         929 KB
  960x540 (29.97 fps) WEBM         38 MB
  320x180     PNG           247 KB
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Computer simulation of the magnetic reconnection in the heliosheath. Credit: NASA/J.F. Drake, M. Swisdak, M. Opher    Computer simulation of the magnetic reconnection in the heliosheath.

Credit: NASA/J.F. Drake, M. Swisdak, M. Opher
Duration: 3.3 seconds
Available formats:
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  1440x720 (29.97 fps) QT         10 MB
  4096x2048 (29.97 fps) MPEG-4   10 MB
  1440x720 (29.97 fps) QT         4 MB
  1440x720 (29.97 fps) MPEG-4   2 MB
  1440x720 (29.97 fps) QT         968 KB
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  960x540 (29.97 fps) WEBM         801 KB
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Artist's interpretation depicting the new view of the heliosphere.  The heliosheath is filled with    Artist's interpretation depicting the new view of the heliosphere. The heliosheath is filled with "magnetic bubbles" (shown in the red pattern) that fill out the region ahead of the heliopause. In this new view, the heliopause is not a continuous shield that separates the solar domain from the interstellar medium, but a porous membrane with fingers and indentations.

Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center/ CI Lab

Available formats:
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  1920 x 1080     TIFF       5 MB
  1920 x 1080     JPEG   515 KB


Artist's interpretation of the    Artist's interpretation of the "standard" old view of the heliosphere: the magnetic field lines in the heliosheath connect back to the sun everywhere (some field lines are shown in red and blue). In this view, scientists expected the heliopause, the boundary that separates where the solar wind dominates from where the interstellar wind dominates, to be smooth and the associated smooth magnetic field to shield us from the interstellar medium and galactic cosmic rays.

Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center/ CI Lab

Available formats:
  4000 x 2250     TIFF     25 MB
  4000 x 2250     JPEG       1 MB
  1920 x 1080     TIFF       5 MB
  1920 x 1080     JPEG   476 KB

Short URL to This Page:http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/goto?10790
Animation Number:10790
Completed:2011-06-05
Animators:Walt Feimer (HTSI) (Lead)
 Michael Lentz (UMBC)
 Chris Smith (HTSI)
 Tom Bridgman (GST)
Video Editor:Scott Wiessinger (USRA)
Narrator:Scott Wiessinger (USRA)
Producer:Scott Wiessinger (USRA)
Scientist:Merav Opher (Boston University)
Writers:Scott Wiessinger (USRA)
 Karen Fox (ASI)
Series:Voyager and the Heliopause
 Narrated Movies
 Goddard Shorts
Goddard TV Tape:G2011-050 -- Voyager Magnetic Bubbles
Please give credit for this item to:
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center/Conceptual Image Lab
 
Keywords:
SVS >> HDTV
SVS >> Heliosphere
SVS >> Magnetosphere
SVS >> Solar Wind
SVS >> Sun
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Sun-earth Interactions >> Solar Activity >> Cosmic Rays
SVS >> Heliopause
SVS >> Voyager
SVS >> IBEX
SVS >> Edited Feature
SVS >> Heliosheath
DLESE >> Narrated
SVS >> Cassini
SVS >> Sun >> Magnetic Field
NASA Science >> Sun
NASA Science >> Planets and Moons
NASA Science >> Universe
 
 


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Many of our multimedia items use the GCMD keywords. These keywords can be found on the Internet with the following citation:
Olsen, L.M., G. Major, K. Shein, J. Scialdone, S. Ritz, T. Stevens, M. Morahan, A. Aleman, R. Vogel, S. Leicester, H. Weir, M. Meaux, S. Grebas, C.Solomon, M. Holland, T. Northcutt, R. A. Restrepo, R. Bilodeau, 2013. NASA/Global Change Master Directory (GCMD) Earth Science Keywords. Version 8.0.0.0.0

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