Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Conference to Learn About Sun's Bubble in Stuff Between the Stars

09.01.2009
The first report on data from NASA's Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) satellite, which is measuring the size and shape of the sun's "bubble" in space, is scheduled to be presented this weekend at a conference in Hawai'i.

Although it should take about a year to map the full sky, details from the satellite's first data will be reported at "Voyagers in the Heliosheath," a conference organized by The University of Alabama in Huntsville’s Center for Space Plasma and Aeronomic Research. The conference is scheduled for Jan 9-14 on the island of Kauai, HI.

For more than a dozen years, Dr. Gary Zank and his small team of scientists now at UAHuntsville have developed models that try to explain what is happening at the boundary between the outer edges of the solar wind and the thin soup of particles and magnetic fields that flow around the edge of the Milky Way galaxy -- the sun's bubble in the stuff between the stars.

"For the first time, we will be able to map the bubble in which we live," said Zank, the Pei-Ling Chan eminent scholar in physics at UAHuntsville. "This is the first really detailed way to probing the material and the magnetic fields right outside where we live."

"Right" outside is a relative thing: The nearest edge of the solar system's bubble, or heliosphere, is about one hundred times as far from the sun as Earth or about 9.3 billion miles away -- approximately two and a half times farther out than the non-planet Pluto.

A hot solar particle blown into space by the solar wind will take just over two years to travel that distance. During that time it might cool from one million degrees Celsius to only 20,000 C when it runs into the termination shock at about 400 kilometers per second (on the order of 864,000 mph).

Starting about 1995 when they were at the University of California at Riverside, Zank and his colleagues have developed detailed models of what probably happens when warm solar plasma -- in astronomy 20,000 C is "warm" -- runs into the ambient atoms, ions and molecules that orbit the galaxy.

By forecasting what this collision zone should look like from Earth, these models helped scientists and engineers design the sensors and instruments aboard IBEX. The satellite was launched in October and in mid-November entered a highly elliptic (oblong) orbit that takes the satellite five-sixths of the distance to the Moon.

The UAHuntsville models will also help scientists analyze data collected by the IBEX sensors. Those sensors detect energetic neutral atoms formed in the collision zone when energetic charged particles "steal" an electron from another particle.

Because they are now electrically neutral these energized atoms are no longer affected by solar magnetic fields, so they travel in straight lines. Some of them will wind up in IBEX sensors, which count oxygen, hydrogen and neon atoms, measure the energy they carry and calculate the direction from which they traveled to Earth.

Throw in a little calculus and the IBEX team can now create full-sky maps of the heliosphere.

"The sky maps will provide a global structure of the heliosphere," Zank said. "It will also tell us the direction that the local interstellar field flows. It will tell us how hot that region is and how big it is."

The models say the sun's bubble should be tear shaped, like the wave around a tree limb dipped into a flowing river.

While they are mapping the bubble, scientists also hope to solve a mystery found in data from NASA's STEREO satellites. Although designed as solar observatories, those satellites also detected an intense "column" of energetic neutral atoms that does not seem to line up with any expected or known source.

"The STEREO data is a real puzzle," Zank said. "If STEREO is seeing energetic neutrals, then there are ten times too many of them. So that's one thing we will be trying to study and understand."

Phillip Gentry | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://uahnews.uah.edu
http://www.ibex.swri.edu/multimedia/index.shtml

More articles from Event News:

nachricht ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future
16.11.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Produktionstechnologie IPT

nachricht Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing
01.11.2016 | Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V.

All articles from Event News >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

Im Focus: Molecules change shape when wet

Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water

In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...

Im Focus: Fraunhofer ISE Develops Highly Compact, High Frequency DC/DC Converter for Aviation

The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

UTSA study describes new minimally invasive device to treat cancer and other illnesses

02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering

Plasma-zapping process could yield trans fat-free soybean oil product

02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

What do Netflix, Google and planetary systems have in common?

02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>