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Friday, October 1, 2010

Solar system's shield may be leaking

A tiny satel lite circling Earth is providing an unexpectedly complicated picture of the solar system's heliosphere, the invisible bubble that extends far beyond the planetary orbits to where the solar wind strikes the vast sea of particles and radiation that fill interstellar space, researchers said Thursday.
It turns out the heliosphere is changing much more rapidly than scientists ever expected, according to data published Thursday in the Journal of Geophysical Research.
Despite its great distance from Earth, the heliosphere is of great interest to astronomers because it shields the solar system from as much as 90 percent of the cosmic rays that would otherwise enter it.