IBEX Measures ‘Alien’ Particles from Outside Solar System


Using data from NASA’s Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) spacecraft, an international team of researchers has measured neutral “alien” particles entering our solar system from interstellar space. A suite of studies published in theAstrophysical Journal provide a first look at the constituents of the interstellar medium, the matter between star systems, and how they interact with our heliosphere.

The heliosphere, the “bubble” in which our Sun and planets reside, is formed by the interaction between the solar wind, flowing outward from the Sun, and the interstellar medium, which presses up against it. Electrically charged, or ionized, particles cannot penetrate the boundary between these two bodies. However, neutral particles, which make up about half the material outside the heliosphere, flow freely in through the boundary.

The only other spacecraft to directly detect these inflowing neutral particles was Ulysses, which more than a decade ago measured interstellar neutral helium. Although IBEX is designed primarily to map the interactions between the solar wind and ionized interstellar material, its low-energy energetic neutral atom camera has now also measured interstellar neutral particles not detected by Ulysses. From its location within Earth’s orbit, IBEX has sampled interstellar hydrogen, oxygen, and neon in addition to neutral helium.

Full Story: http://swri.org/9what/releases/2012/ibex-spacecraft.htm

Advertisements
  1. No comments yet.
  1. February 18, 2012 at 6:30 am

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: