(ORDO NEWS) — An international team of astrophysicists led by Merav Opher of Boston University has made a breakthrough in understanding the cosmic forces that form a protective “bubble” around our solar system – the bubble that protects life on Earth and is known to researchers as the heliosphere.
None of the scientists know exactly what the true shape of the heliosphere is. In their study, Ofer and her group used a model called SHIELD (Solar-wind with Hydrogen Ion Exchange and Large-scale Dynamics), according to which the heliosphere does not have the classic “comet” shape, but rather looks like a “croissant”, due to instability of solar jets.
According to a new paper published by Ofer and her colleagues, neutral hydrogen atoms in interstellar space flowing around our solar system could play a key role in shaping the heliosphere. According to the SHIELD model, these fluxes of hydrogen are responsible for the instability of solar jets.
Such instability could theoretically cause perturbations of the solar wind streams erupted by our Sun, which leads to the splitting of the heliosphere and the formation of outlines resembling a croissant.
Although astrophysicists have not yet been able to develop a unified point of view on the shape of the heliosphere, the study carried out by Ofer and her group shows that the heliosphere cannot have the usual form of a “comet”, since it is impossible to exclude the effect of neutral streams of cosmic hydrogen – they are constantly flowing in the vicinity the magnetic bubble of our star, the author emphasizes.
The findings were published in the Astrophysical Journal.
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