The heliosphere's interstellar interaction: No bow shock

D. J. McComas, D. Alexashov, M. Bzowski, H. Fahr, J. Heerikhuisen, V. Izmodenov, M. A. Lee, E. Möbius, N. Pogorelov, N. A. Schwadron, G. P. Zank

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176 Scopus citations

Abstract

As the Sun moves through the local interstellar medium, its supersonic, ionized solar wind carves out a cavity called the heliosphere. Recent observations from the Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) spacecraft show that the relative motion of the Sun with respect to the interstellar medium is slower and in a somewhat different direction than previously thought. Here, we provide combined consensus values for this velocity vector and show that they have important implications for the global interstellar interaction. In particular, the velocity is almost certainly slower than the fast magnetosonic speed, with no bow shock forming ahead of the heliosphere, as was widely expected in the past.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1291-1293
Number of pages3
JournalScience
Volume336
Issue number6086
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 8 2012
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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    McComas, D. J., Alexashov, D., Bzowski, M., Fahr, H., Heerikhuisen, J., Izmodenov, V., Lee, M. A., Möbius, E., Pogorelov, N., Schwadron, N. A., & Zank, G. P. (2012). The heliosphere's interstellar interaction: No bow shock. Science, 336(6086), 1291-1293. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1221054