Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Does the sun have a bow shock? Maybe.

I admit, there are some things that annoy me about our solar system because of a theatrical "cool" factor. The sun won"t go supernova, which would be awesome, we don"t have a Tatooine-style sunrise, which would also be awesome, we also don"t have homo-reptilia living under Earth"s surface, which would, again, be awesome. A bow shock would also be cool, because bow shocks are neat things, but a data collected by the Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) seemed to throw a cold bucket of reality on something else that would have been cool.

Fortunately, science is to the rescue and the sun may yet produce a bow shock. It won"t be as cool, defined, and dynamic as the bow shock seen in the pictured star from the Orion nebula, but hey, we must compromise. A bow shock is best visualized as a sonic boom from a jet, but more accurately thought of as the bow wave created by boats as they pass through water. Due to pressures caused by the interstellar medium against the outer layers of the heliosphere, you get this shockwave to form.

To learn more about our Sun"s possible shockwave, see:

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