(Image source: NASA)
BY NICHOLE CARTMELL
Scientists captured their first glimpse of our solar system's tail, known as the heliotail.
The discovery was made with NASA's Interstellar Boundary Explorer.
It was widely believed that a tail extended from the heliosphere the outermost layer
of our solar system much like a comet. What it looked like remained unclear, but
now scientists have determined the shape of that tail. (Via NASA)
You might go so far as calling the heliotail lucky. It's shaped like a four-leaf clover...
a result of fast solar winds coming from the direction of the sun's poles and slower winds
flowing from near the sun's equator. (Via Space.com)
Launched in 2008, the IBEX spacecraft collects particles that travel toward Earth from out
past the farthest planets.
From these particles, information is gathered about their mass and energy, where they came
from, and the time they were collected. Together, this information allows scientists to map
out the structure they form. (Via Los Angeles Times)
This was how scientists discovered the shape of the heliotail a discovery that some
believe will not only help us understand the heliosphere, but also help researchers studying
cosmic rays. (Via NASA)
NASA says the goal now is integrating these findings into existing models of the heliosphere.