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Something terrifying is happening at the border of our solar system

Updated 3 weeks ago
Published Oct 31st, 2022 6:34PM EDT
Planets of the solar system
Image: Denis Rozhnovsky/Adobe

Our solar system is just a small slice of the universe. From the depth that James Webb’s first images have provided, to the journeys that Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 have taken into interstellar space, our universe is much bigger beyond our solar system’s edge. Now, though, scientists have noticed a series of terrifying changes in the heliopause, the border between our solar system and interstellar space.

The heliopause is the outermost border of our solar system, and as such, it acts as the final barrier between our system’s space and that of the interstellar medium. Because of this, changes in the heliopause have always been intriguing to scientists. But, recently discovered data points to some terrifying changes that our current models of the heliopause can’t explain.

The changes were discovered while looking at data captured by NASA’s Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX). This satellite captured several brightening energetic neutral atoms (ENAs) that Space.com says indicated a lack of symmetry in the heliopause. Further, while reviewing data from Voyager 1 and Voyager 2, they found that changes in the heliopause had taken place.

the heliopause, the edge of our solar system
A breakdown of the heliopause, the heliosphere, and more. Image source: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The scientists also found that the changes in the heliopause between Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 entering interstellar space were so drastic, they defy the current models that we have regarding our solar system’s boundary point. These drastic changes could also explain why there was such a large gap between the two probes entering the interstellar medium, too.

Researchers published a paper on the topic in the journal Nature Astronomy earlier this month. In it, they call the changes in the heliopause “potentially controversial.” They also plan to continue studying the boundary of our solar system, and will use NASA’s Interstellar Mapping and Acceleration Probe to try to understand these changes better.

Until then, though, scientists will have to rely on spacecraft like the Voyager probes, and the current data we have to learn more about interstellar space.

More coverage: Brightest space explosion created a particle that shouldn’t exist.

Joshua Hawkins fell in love with writing and technology at a young age. Eventually he decided to combine the two and started writing about video games, the latest tech, and all the cool gadgets he could find. Whenever he isn’t busy writing about tech or gadgets, he can usually be found enjoying a new world in a video game, or tinkering with something on his computer.