Over the many years, humans have been exploring what is in and around our solar system. We have sent many spacecrafts out to relay data back to us that has been used to piece together a better idea of our home.
Researchers know that Earth is the third planet furthest from the sun, and they know that Earth is the sixth planet from the edge of the solar system, or more accurately referred to as the outer heliosphere. The solar system's edge is defined by locating the region of space where the sun's charged solar particles are "deflected" by interstellar radiation present in the vacant space behind the edge. This border is defined as the heliosphere.
Researchers used data from the Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) that NASA launched in 2008 to create a new 3D map that shows the size of the heliosphere in relation to the sun and our solar system. Below is an image, and as you can see, the sun is located in the middle. On the right-hand side of the image is Voyager 1 and 2, two satellites now in interstellar space where there is abundant interstellar radiation. To the left of the image is the heliosphere, and as you would have probably already noticed, the heliosphere isn't symmetrical. This is due to how the sun is moving throughout the Milky Way.
Dan Reisenfeld, a space science researcher at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico and lead author on the study, said, "There's a lot of plasma [charged particles] in the interstellar medium, and... the inner heliosphere, which is pretty round, is an obstacle in this stream of plasma which is flowing past it. It has the same effect as water going around a rock in a stream."
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