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IBEX Media Teleconference: Visuals
09.29.10
 
NASA To Reveal New Data On Conditions At Edge Of Solar System

The briefing participants are:
  • Arik Posner
    IBEX program scientist, Heliophysics Division, Science Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters in Washington
  • Nathan Schwadron
    IBEX science operations lead and associate professor at the University of New Hampshire in Durham
  • David McComas
    IBEX principal investigator and assistant vice president of the Space Science and Engineering Division at Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio
  • Merav Opher
    Associate professor, George Mason University in Fairfax, Va.



Presenter 1: Arik Posner, IBEX program scientist, Heliophysics Division, Science Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters in Washington

Visual #1
The ribbon observed by the Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) Mission is a narrow bright feature that spans much of the nighttime sky linking together the summer constellation of Cygnus, the swan, Aquila, the eagle, the center of the Milky Way galaxy, Ursa Major and Ursa Minor.
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The ribbon observed by the Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) Mission is a narrow bright feature that spans much of the nighttime sky linking together the summer constellation of Cygnus, the swan, Aquila, the eagle, the center of the Milky Way galaxy, Ursa Major and Ursa Minor. Credit: IBEX Team/Goddard Scientific Visualization Studio/ESA



Presenter 2: Nathan Schwadron, IBEX science operations lead and associate professor at the University of New Hampshire in Durham

Visual #2

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The heliosphere is a bubble that surrounds our entire solar system and is inflated by the outward solar wind, which pushes out and deflects the material from the part of the galactic medium through which our Sun and solar system continually moves. This animation starts at our sun and quickly zooms out from the solar system to reveal the heliosphere and its collision with interstellar gas. The two Voyager spacecraft are currently exploring this interaction region. Credit: Goddard Conceptual Image Lab/Walt Feimer

Visual #3
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The heliosphere deflects galactic cosmic rays from entering the system. Galactic cosmic rays are a very high energy form of particle radiation that are extremely difficult to shield against and are harmful to astronauts. The boundaries surrounding our heliosphere deflect the majority of galactic radiation from the inner solar system. This animation depicts the Sun (the bright object near the Sun) and the outer boundaries surrounding the solar system. Toward the end of the animation we see cosmic rays as they are deflected by these boundaries. These boundaries surrounding our solar system are directly imaged by the Interstellar Boundary Explorer Mission. Credit: Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum.

Visual #4
Voyagers 1 and 2 reached the termination shock in 2005 and 2007, respectively, taking point measurements as they left the solar system. Before IBEX, there was only data from these two points at the edge of the solar system.
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Voyagers 1 and 2 reached the termination shock in 2005 and 2007, respectively, taking point measurements as they left the solar system. Before IBEX, there was only data from these two points at the edge of the solar system. While exciting and valuable, the data they provided about this region raised more questions than they resolved. IBEX has filled in the entire interaction region, revealing surprising details completely unpredicted by any theories. IBEX completes one all-sky map every six months. IBEX completed the first map of the complex interactions occurring at the edge of the solar system (shown) in the summer of 2009. Credit: IBEX Science Team

Visual #5
Cover of Science Magazine, 13 November 2009, Vol 326, Issue 5955, AAAS
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The Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) spacecraft has returned the first global images of the interaction of our heliosphere with the local interstellar medium. IBEX observations show a ribbon of energetic neutral atoms (reds to greens), snaking between the positions of the two Voyager spacecraft (white dots). This ribbon marks the region where the galactic magnetic field (gray lines) wraps most tightly around the heliosphere's boundary. See the series of reports starting on page 959. Image Credit: Patrick McPike/Adler Planetarium




Presenter 3: David McComas, IBEX principal investigator and assistant vice president of the Space Science and Engineering Division at Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio

Visual #6
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The IBEX science team compares the first and second maps to reveal whether there are time variations in the Ribbon or the more distributed emissions around the ribbon. This animation fades between the first and second IBEX maps. We see that the first and second maps are relatively similar. However, there are significant time variations as well. These time variations are forcing scientists to try to understand how the heliosphere can be changing so rapidly. Credit: IBEX Science Team/Goddard Space Flight Center

Visual #7
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One of the clear features visible in the IBEX maps is an apparent knot in the ribbon. Scientists were anxious to see how this structure would change with time. The second map showed that the knot in the ribbon somehow spread out. It is as if the knot in the ribbon was literally untangled over only 6 months! This visualization shows a close-up of the ribbon (green and red) superimposed on the stars and constellations in the nighttime sky. The animation begins by looking toward the nose of the heliosphere and then pans up and left to reveal the knot. The twisted structure superimposed on the map is an artist's conception of the tangled up ribbon. The animation then shows this structure untangling as we fade into the second map of the heliosphere. Credit: IBEX Science Team/Goddard Scientific Visualization Studio/ESA

Visual #8
Measurements from the ACE and Ulysses spacecraft show that the force exerted by solar wind is literally falling with time. The top figure shows how the Sun changes with time over the solar cycle. At solar minimum the Sun’s hot corona appears much darker and cooler than at solar maximum. The bottom panel shows sunspot number on the Sun, which also indicates how active the Sun is. The middle panel shows the falling force of the solar wind with time (from 1992 through 2010).
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Measurements from the ACE and Ulysses spacecraft show that the force exerted by solar wind is literally falling with time. The top figure shows how the Sun changes with time over the solar cycle. At solar minimum the Sun’s hot corona appears much darker and cooler than at solar maximum. The bottom panel shows sunspot number on the Sun, which also indicates how active the Sun is. The middle panel shows the falling force of the solar wind with time (from 1992 through 2010). As the solar wind becomes weaker, the boundaries surrounding the heliosphere may begin to fall in toward the Sun and Earth. These falling boundaries are part of the reason that IBEX observes changes from the first to the second map of the global heliosphere. Credit: SwRI/Ulysses and ACE data/SOHO EIT images


Visual #9
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The boundaries surrounding our heliosphere can change both due to changes in our galactic environment and through changes in the solar wind emitted by the Sun. We see here an animation of the boundaries surrounding our solar system falling in and then expanding. These changes in our heliosphere must have happened in the past and will likely occur in the future. Credit: Goddard Conceptual Image Lab/Walt Feimer

Visual #10
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The changes in the size of our solar system’s boundaries also cause changes to the galactic cosmic rays that enter the solar system. Although these boundaries do a good job of deflecting the majority of harmful galactic radiation, some fraction of this galactic radiation always makes it into the solar system. When the boundaries shrink in size and the solar wind becomes weaker, galactic cosmic rays have a much easier time gaining access into the inner solar system. In contrast, when the solar wind becomes more powerful, the boundaries inflate and galactic cosmic rays have a harder time penetrating into the solar system. The discovery by IBEX reported here is consistent with inward falling of the boundaries surrounding the solar system. This should allow more galactic radiation to enter the solar system. This animation shows changes in the boundaries around our solar system as they deflate and inflate with time. The fast moving galactic cosmic rays are shown coming in from all directions. When the boundaries deflate, more of the cosmic rays make it into the inner solar system, increasing the radiation levels throughout the solar system. Credit: Goddard Conceptual Image Lab/Walt Feimer




Presenter 4: Merav Opher, associate professor, George Mason University in Fairfax, Va.

Visual #11
Photographs of the heliospheres around other stars (called astrospheres) taken by a variety of telescopes.
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Photographs of the heliospheres around other stars (called astrospheres) taken by various telescopes.
Credit Hubble: NASA/ESA/C.R. O'Dell (Vanderbilt University)
Credit Galex: NASA/JPL-Caltech/C. Martin (Caltech)/M. Seibert(OCIW)
Credit: SwRI




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