Sun  ID: 13642

11 Years Charting The Edge of The Solar System

Far, far beyond the orbits of the planets lie the hazy outlines of the magnetic bubble in space that we call home.

This is the heliosphere, the vast bubble that is generated by the Sun’s magnetic field and envelops all the planets. The borders of this cosmic bubble are not fixed. In response to the Sun’s gasps and sighs, they shrink and stretch over the years.

Now, for the first time, scientists have used an entire solar cycle of data from NASA’s IBEX spacecraft to study how the heliosphere changes over time. Solar cycles last roughly 11 years, as the Sun swings from seasons of high to low activity, and back to high again. With IBEX’s long record, scientists were eager to examine how the Sun’s mood swings play out at the edge of the heliosphere. The results show the shifting outer heliosphere in great detail, deftly sketch the heliosphere’s shape — a matter of debate in recent years, and hint at processes behind one of its most puzzling features. These findings, along with a newly fine-tuned data set, are published in The Astrophysical Journal Supplements on June 10, 2020.

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Joy Ng (USRA): Lead Producer
Dave McComas (SwRI): Scientist
Jamey Szalay (Princeton University): Scientist
Eric Christian Ph.D. (NASA/HQ): Scientist
Joy Ng (USRA): Animator
Walt Feimer (KBR Wyle Services, LLC): Animator
Krystofer Kim (USRA): Animator
Adriana Manrique Gutierrez (USRA): Animator
Jonathan North (USRA): Animator
Tom Bridgman (Global Science and Technology, Inc.): Data Visualizer
Kathalina Tran (SGT): Lead Writer
Joy Ng (USRA): Narrator
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NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. However, individual items should be credited as indicated above.

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SVS >> Energetic Neutral Atoms (ENA)
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