UNH Astrophysicists Find that Particles Streaming into the Solar System from Interstellar Space Have Changed Direction Recently

UNH Astrophysicists Find that Particles Streaming into the Solar System from Interstellar Space Have Changed Direction Recently

Sep 13, 2013

Scientists, including UNH astrophysicists involved in NASA’s Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) mission, have discovered that the particles streaming into the solar system from interstellar space have likely changed direction over the last 40 years.

The finding helps scientists map our location within the Milky Way galaxy and gain deeper insight into the dynamic nature of the interstellar winds, which has major implications on the size, structure, and nature of our sun's heliosphere—the gigantic bubble that surrounds our solar system and helps shield us from dangerous incoming galactic radiation.

The results, based on data spanning four decades from 11 different spacecraft, including IBEX, were published in the journal Science on Sept. 5, 2013. Eberhard Möbius, UNH principal scientist for the IBEX mission, and Nathan Schwadron, lead scientist for the IBEX Science Operations Center at UNH, were co-authors of the Science paper. 

The paper, “Decades-long Changes of the Interstellar Wind Through our Solar System,” includes IBEX team members from the University of Chicago, the Space Research Centre of the Polish Academy of Sciences, the Southwest Research Institute, the University of Texas in San Antonio, UNH, Dartmouth College, Central Arizona College, the University of California at Berkeley, and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

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