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Is our Solar System shaped like a croissant or a Jumbo shrimp?



Photo source: Hepher, et al
Photo source: Hepher, et al

From Common Mechanics

  • Astronomers have long tried to determine the shape of our solar system.

  • The researchers used readings from various NASA missions to plot the contents of the solar system and then its shape.

  • New research suggests our solar system can actually be shaped like a deflated croissant or, depending on how you look at it, a jumbo shrimp.

Our sun emits powerful solar winds that wrap around the planets of our solar system like a giant bubble. This magnetic bubble, known as the heliosphere, protects the planets from harmful cosmic radiation emitted by powerful cosmic events such as supernovas.

Scientists have long suspected that the heliosphere may be shaped like a comet, with a distinct and pointed “nose”

; and a long, sweeping tail. But according to new research published in the journal Natural Astronomy, not so right. The truth is much better.

You love our badass universe. So do we. Let’s explore it together.

After conducting a series of simulations using data from various NASA missions, a group of astronomers now believe that the heliosphere of our solar system may be shaped like a ” deflated croissants “. Personally, we see a jumbo shrimp.

Photo source: Getty / Hepher, et al
Photo source: Getty / Hepher, et al

Scientists have recently pinpointed the exact location of the solar system’s center, but determining its shape from within is a difficult task. To know the shape of the solar system, researchers first need to identify all of the matter inside it. Apparently, we have planets and moons, asteroids and comets, tiny bacteria, and Steve Buscemi. But there are many other things in it too.

Data from the boundary between the solar system and the rest of space – known as a helicopter stop – is very sparse. The Voyager spacecraft, launched in 1977, reached the edge of the solar system just a few years ago. That brings the total number of solar system data points in place to two.

Fortunately, other quests provide helpful clues that allow scientists to create a rough outline of our bubble-like home.

NASA’s Interstellar Exploration Mission (IBEX) studies the cosmic rays pointing towards Earth from remote regions of the galaxy, as well as another type of particle known as an atom. Energy neutral, derived here in the solar system. They zip around, touch the heliopause — a whopping 10 billion miles from Earth and launch it towards our planet. The Cassini mission, which orbits Saturn and its many moons between 2004 and 2017, also has a device that studies these particles.

The new Horizon quest has been particularly helpful. As the spacecraft scanned the solar system – Pluto, Charon and Arrokoth in the past – it collected readings of a particular type of particle carried by the solar wind called a pick-up ion. These Frankensteinian-collecting ions are much hotter than other charged particles, much colder than found in the solar wind because they are ionized in space.

Boston University astronomer Merav Opher said: “If you have some cold and hot liquids, and you put them in space, they won’t mix together – they’ll grow mostly on their own. “difference,” said astronomer Merav Opher, of Boston University. these two components of the solar wind and modeling the 3D shape of the heliosphere. “

If we were to venture further into the solar system, it would be important to understand its shape. It could help prepare our astronauts and their future living spaces for the onslaught of radiation they will face on the moon, Mars and more.

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