YA' beat me 2 it! First images of our Solar System's tail revealed
NASA: In its endeavor to trace the boundaries of space, NASA came across another breathtaking phenomenon in outer realms of space after its coffee table-sized spacecraft- Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) captured the tail of our Solar System.
The tail called 'heliotail' appears like a four-leaf clover and it offers the first glimpse of Solar System's tail.
The tail trails behind the heliosphere, or the bubble surrounding our Solar System- created by the solar winds and solar magnetic field.
Researchers say the comet-like tail is inflated by the solar wind of particles streaming off the sun, and the four-leaf clover shape is the result of fast solar wind shooting out near the sun's poles and slower wind flowing from near the sun's equator. The finding is based on the first three years of IBEX's measurements of energetic neutral atoms, reports Space.com.
In the interstellar boundary region, charged particles from the sun stream outward far beyond the planets toward the gas- and dust-filled space between stars. Collisions between these particles and interstellar material create fast-moving particles with no charge, known as energetic neutral atoms, or ENAs. Some of these particles speed inward toward the sun, where IBEX can detect them from its perch 200,000 miles (322,000 kilometers) above Earth.
However, the recent findings have yet to answer all the questions. The IBEX does not give information about the length of the tail. It is predicted that the evaporating tail could be something like 1,000 times the distance between the Earth and the sun.
A distorted tail is due to the magnetic pull experienced by the surrounding galaxies. The IBEX is expected to monitor the tail for some more time to come, it is expected to throw interesting light over the behaviour of the tail as it completes its 11-year-long cycle around Sun.
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