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Solar System Details

Limits Of The Heliosphere

The heliopause is the outer edge of the heliosphere. Think of it as the surface of the bubble that surrounds our Solar System. The heliopause is the part of our Solar System that is exposed to the ions and particles of deep space. It is over 100 times the distance from the Earth to the Sun. Once you leave the heliopause, you will no longer feel any effects from the Sun.

Creating The Bubble

The Sun is more than just a glowing ball of gases. It is constantly sending out charged particles that are the parts of the solar wind. The solar wind moves out from the Sun and creates a large bubble called the heliosphere. Every star in the universe has a heliosphere. At its edge, there is an area where our stars charged particles meet the particles from other stars. That place is the heliopause.

Heliopause Structure

Just inside the heliopause is the termination shock. The termination shock is where the solar winds slow down to speeds slower than the speed of sound. They slow because of the effect of particles from other stars in the area. Eventually the solar wind speeds will drop to nothing because of the winds from other stars. The region between the heliopause and the termination shock is called the heliosheath. Once you cross the heliopause, it is a solar wind dead zone. Both Voyager probes are reaching the termination shock and will eventually cross the heliopause and move into deep space.

Exploring Beyond The Heliopause

As Voyager I and II move towards the heliopause, astronomers will learn more and more about the outer reaches of our Solar System. Scientists think that the Solar System may move through the galaxy like a boat. The heliosphere and heliopause are in the shape of a teardrop with the round end in front and the tail in back. One day, probes will explore that region of space and determine where our solar winds lose their speed and influence. They may even begin to collect particles from the solar winds of other stars.

Next Page on the Solar System.
- Introduction
- Solar Wind
- Heliosphere
> Heliopause
- Asteroid Belt
- Asteroids
- Kuiper Belt
- Comets
- Oort Cloud
- Saturn's Moons


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