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Sunday, July 14, 2013

SUNNY TAIL: 3D quatrefoil

In the solar system is the tail of the solar wind particles, resembling the tail of a comet. To verify the existence of this tail, and determine its structure, scientists were able, after analyzing data collected over three years, the spacecraft NASA IBEX.

Despite the fact that the tails are found in many of the stars, to determine whether there is a tail of our own star, was not easy - particles of the solar wind are not lit and there are no conventional telescopes. The device IBEX , registering energetic neutral atoms that occur in collisions with particles of the solar wind particles of the interstellar medium, has given astronomers a chance to explore the outer limits of the heliosphere and see what is available to traditional astronomical instruments.

In the cross-sectional sunny tail is shaped quatrefoil, one pair of opposite petals which is formed by fast particles, and the other - slow. This is due to the fact that in a phase of high activity of the 11-year solar cycle, which occurred last year, the Sun emitted a fast wind from the area of ​​the poles and the equator slow out of the zone.

Orientation petals quatrefoil axis of the Sun varies with the distance from it, as far from the Sun weakens its magnetic field, and the tail is slightly rotated along its longitudinal axis by the magnetic field of the galaxy.

The exact length of the tail is unknown to scientists, but they are confident that at sufficiently large distances, its material is gradually dissipates and becomes indistinguishable from the interstellar matter.

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