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17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
Vol. 344 ,
Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
Using the two high-quality genomes that exist for Neandertals and Denisovans, researchers find clues to gene activity...
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
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ScienceShot: The Sun's Twisted Tail
10 July 2013 5:45 pm
NASA's Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) spacecraft has stared back "downwind" to look at the sun's own tail. Much as the sun's solar wind blows out the tails of comets, the vanishingly thin stuff between the stars blows the charged particles and magnetic fields of the solar wind back into a tail. The effect is much the same as when the sun's "wind" of charged particles and magnetic fields blows a comet's gas and dust into a tail. Most stars have such tails, as here imaged by telescopes. IBEX rendered the sun's "heliotail" by recording uncharged atomic particles streaming toward it from the direction of the tail. Contrary to predictions, the sun's tail is slightly twisted by the interstellar magnetic field and reflects the varying intensity of solar wind emissions back on the sun. As best as IBEX researchers can tell, the heliotail disperses some 1000 times farther from the sun than is Earth.