Home » News & Blogs » How an interstellar dust wisp could devastate our planet
Bookmark and Share
The Ancient Solar System...

How an interstellar dust wisp could devastate our planet

30 Mar 2016, 11:01 UTC
How an interstellar dust wisp could devastate our planet
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

Space looks empty, but it isn't - not completely. There's a 'soup' of dust and gas that fills the space between the stars. Called the Interstellar medium (ISM), it's thin - ranging from only a handful of atoms per cubic meter at it's thinnest, to millions of atoms per cubic centimetre and higher in places. The ISM doesn't reach the space near Earth though: The Sun puts out a magnetic bubble which both pushes back the ISM and deflects the highest energy cosmic radiation away from us.Above: A graphic showing the structure of the Sun's protective magnetic bubble, courtesy of NASA.So far, so 'thank-you-very-much-mother-nature'. But there's a bit of a catch: Right now our solar system's moving through a fairly thin bit of the ISM called 'the local bubble'. That allows  the Suns' magnetic field to expand out to its fullest. But in a few thousand years we'll hit a denser patch of the ISM, called 'the G-cloud' - the local bubble is already getting turbulent, as we leave it's edge. When we reach it the magnetic bubble will be forced inwards, shrinking towards the Sun. It could be pushed as far in as the orbit of Jupiter, which would cause a serious increase in the amount ...

Latest Vodcast

Latest Podcast

Advertise PTTU

NASA Picture of the Day

Astronomy Picture of the Day

astronomy_pod