Our Sun Is Moving More Slowly Than Thought
by Charles Q. Choi, SPACE.com Contributor
Date: 10 May 2012 Time: 02:01 PM ET
|The heliosphere is the region of space dominated by the Sun that cocoons Earth and the other planets.
CREDIT: Southwest Research Institute
The sun is zipping through interstellar space more slowly than once thought, suggesting the giant shock wave long suspected of existing in front of the sun is not actually there, researchers say.
These new findings may influence what scientists know about high-energy cosmic rays that can endanger astronauts, they added.
The sun and its planets are cocooned within a bubble of charged particles and magnetic fields known as the heliosphere. The edge of the heliosphere, where it collides with interstellar gas and dust, is called the heliopause, and marks the outer limit of the solar system.
For about a quarter century, researchers had thought the sun was moving fast enough in space for our heliosphere to generate a shock wave known as a bow shock as it plowed through interstellar matter.
Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director,
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