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We live in what we call the solar system. Beyond the solar system is what we call interstellar space. What is the boundary? How do we know when we’ve crossed from the solar system to interstellar space? What is the shape of the solar system? There is now a paper that tries to answer all of those questions. They’ve got math and graphics. Here’s more from Centauri Dreams:
Between the Solar System and interstellar space is a boundary layer called the heliosheath. Or maybe I should define this boundary as being between the inner, planetary part of the Solar System and interstellar space. After all, we consider the Oort Cloud as part of our own system, yet it begins much further out. Both Voyagers have crossed the region where the Sun’s heliosphere ends and interstellar space begins, while they won’t reach the Oort, by some estimates, for another 300 years.
The broader region is called the heliopause, a place where the outflowing solar wind of protons, electrons and alpha particles (two protons and two neutrons tightly bound) encounters what we can call the interstellar wind, itself pushing up against the heliosphere and confining the solar wind-dominated region to a bubble. We now learn that this boundary region has been mapped, showing interactions at the interface.
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