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Space & Astronomy

Are we living in a giant deflated croissant ?

By T.K. Randall
August 9, 2020 · Comment icon 10 comments

Could this really be the shape of our solar system ? Image Credit: Opher, et al.
Scientists have determined the most likely shape of the heliosphere which surrounds the solar system.
Generated by the Sun, this vast protective region is made up of charged solar particles and magnetic fields which block some of the highly energetic cosmic rays coming from interstellar space.

For a long time, scientists believed that the heliosphere was most likely comet shaped with a rounded leading edge, but now a new study has cast doubt on this idea - instead suggesting that the shape of this protective region may be far more strange and chaotic than previously realized.

According to the team, the heliosphere may in fact resemble a giant deflated croissant.

Determining its shape is certainly not easy, especially given that only two spacecraft - Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 - have actually sampled the edge of it directly, leaving little data to work with.
For the new study, scientists decided to derive the shape of the heliosphere through other means, such as by studying measurements of galactic cosmic rays coming from deep space.

They also looked at 'pick-up ions' (which are carried along by the solar wind) as measured by NASA's New Horizons Pluto probe.

At the end of the day, understanding the shape of the heliosphere is particularly beneficial, especially as it enables scientists to better map out which regions of space are protected from galactic cosmic rays - something that could prove invaluable when planning future space missions.

It also helps to provide a better understanding of the solar system in general.

Source: Space.com | Comments (10)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by OverSword 4 years ago
Do the red lines represent cosmic rays?
Comment icon #2 Posted by third_eye 4 years ago
Great, now the scientists are fat shaming the solar system, this ain't gonna end well...  ~
Comment icon #3 Posted by Seti42 4 years ago
I think it looks more like an alien embryo than a croissant.
Comment icon #4 Posted by jethrofloyd 4 years ago
No. We living in a giant cosmic Brownie!
Comment icon #5 Posted by DreadLordAvatar 4 years ago
Makes sense, after all, humans are the aliens of this planet.
Comment icon #6 Posted by Humbled Hypocrite83 4 years ago
I don't think we will ever truly know unless we are on the outside looking in. We are stuck on this planet and may not even have our solar system fully mapped lol
Comment icon #7 Posted by TripGun 4 years ago
This information will help us with our understanding of heliophysics. Good read.
Comment icon #8 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 4 years ago
This information comes from the Voyager spacecraft, which are on the outside looking in.
Comment icon #9 Posted by Humbled Hypocrite83 4 years ago
Well that helps 
Comment icon #10 Posted by Still Waters 3 years ago
Update: Astronomers Have Discovered Why The Solar System Might Be Shaped Like a Croissant Since we're inside the heliosphere, and its boundary is not actually visible, figuring out its shape is not exactly easy. But it's not impossible. The two Voyager probes and New Horizons are three spacecraft that have traveled to the far reaches of the Solar System; in fact, the Voyager probes have even traversed the boundary of the heliosphere, and are currently making their way through interstellar space. With data from these probes, scientists determined last year that the heliosphere could be shaped... [More]

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