Shifting Interstellar Wind Shows Larger Implications

Shifting Interstellar Wind Shows Larger Implications
Trajectory of Interstellar Wind

A new study has shown, over the course of the last 40 years, that interstellar winds have changed direction, if only slightly. The study took data from the 1970’s onward from eleven different satellites. This change in the direction of the Interstellar Wind shows larger implications than one may realize.

While some may already be familiar with Solar Wind, more may be unfamiliar with Interstellar Wind. Solar Wind is what scientists call the stream of charged particles that are emitted from the sun out to beyond our solar system. In this wind are not only charged particles of Hydrogen and Helium, but solar radiation as well.

The Interstellar Wind, as one might imagine, is the stream of charged particles entering our solar system from somewhere else. In this case from the large gas cloud that our solar system is currently traveling through. Just like our planet moves around the sun, our solar system moves around the center of the Milky Way Galaxy. In fact, our solar system is currently traveling through a loose cloud of interstellar gas known as the Local Interstellar Cloud, at about 52,000 miles an hour, relatively.

The information was complied from such platforms as: the United States Department of Defense Space Test Program 72-1, SOLRAD 11B, NASA’s Mariner, Soviet Prognoz 6, and newer platforms like NASA’s Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX), and the Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE).

While technology has changed significantly since the 1970, the instruments themselves have all been able to register charged Hydrogen and Helium particles. Also, pulling data from the large number of different instruments and platforms from the 1970’s onward has allowed for some statistical reliability. Although there is still a small amount of error in the older data, it clearly shows a shift in the wind. This shifting interstellar wind largely implies how our own solar system protects itself, and us, from larger forces.

Shifting Interstellar Wind Shows Larger Implications
Passage of our solar system through the Local Interstellar Cloud.

All of this has gone on to show a change in the direction of the Interstellar Wind by about six degrees. Just like how the Earth’s magnetic field provides a shield and buffer for the solar winds, the Sun’s magnetic field protects and shields the solar system from the interstellar winds. However, unlike the Earth which is constantly bombarded by the solar wind from one direction, the interstellar wind shifts indicating a kind of galactic turbulence that our solar system is being subjected to. This has the implication of changing and distorting the heliosphere, the protective magnetic bubble the Sun creates, as the Interstellar Wind’s shift direction.

Since our solar system is in an outer arm of our galaxy, it seems to reason that it would experience more turbulence from outside forces, either from the center of our galaxy or outside of it, as we are less protected by the larger shield of the galactic center’s magnetic field.

These revelations seem to reinforce the old truth ‘as above, so below,’ meaning that what we understand and see in our world can be applied to the much larger worlds that we cannot directly experience. In this way, with this data, we can see that our understanding of solar wind and protection that the Earth creates can be applied to the solar system and, perhaps, the galaxy as well. If there are groups of galaxies moving together, perhaps it can be applied to that larger structure as well.

Regardless as to the philosophical implications, this data provides the starting point for scientists to hypothesize and experiment with how the galaxy and our solar system moves through space. So, we may find the larger implications of a shifting interstellar wind indicates our position in the galaxy has changed, showing our progress in the infinitely larger universal dance of movement.

Written by: Iam Bloom

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