The sun emits powerful electromagnetic winds that envelop the planets of our solar system like a giant bubble. This magnetic bubble is called the heliosphere and protects planets from dangerous cosmic radiation.
Scientists have long believed that the heliosphere is in the shape of a comet – with a well-defined nose and a long fluttering tail. However, according to a recent study published in the journal Nature Astronomy, this is not the case.
After a series of global simulations conducted for various NASA missions, astronomers said our heliosphere looks more like a “flattened croissant.” Or a giant space shrimp.
More recently, scientists were able to pinpoint the exact center of our solar system, but its true shape remained a mystery. By combining data from various NASA missions, including the Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX), Cassini and New Horizons probes, astronomers have been able to construct a three-dimensional model that describes the shape of our heliosphere. You can see its graphic representation in the picture below. This work is extremely important for future space travel. It will allow us to prepare astronauts and ships for the harsh cosmic radiation attacks that await them on the Moon, Mars and other planets.