Monday, June 11, 2007
Scientists have discovered, after a careful analysis of the solar heliosphere, that the solar system is angled perpendicularly to the galactic plane of the Milky Way. The clue is in how the heliosphere, which surrounds the solar system like a cocoon, is deformed by the local galactic magnetic field. Apparently, the northern part of the heliosphere bulges outwards against the inward compression of the southern part. This fact was discovered with the analysis of data from the Voyager 1 and 2 space probes. According to astrophysicist Merav Opher, this situation is best explained if the local galactic magnetic field that lies just outside the solar system, is angled 60 to 90 degrees to the plane of the Milky Way. The origin of the galactic magnetic field is still much of a mystery. It's orientation may have something to do with how the Milky Way galaxy was formed.