NASA's Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) has provided a glimpse at the interstellar material that lies beyond our solar system (Image: NASA)
The neon to oxygen ratio in the neutral gas of the local cloud, as obtained with IBEX, in comparison with the ratio for the Sun and the Milky Way galaxy (Image: NASA)
The solar system is surrounded by a great magnetic bubble known as the heliosphere (Image: NASA)
Over the course of a year, NASA's Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) scans the entire sky. During February, its instruments are aligned in the correct direction to intercept atoms that have crossed the boundary from interstellar space into our solar system, become caught by the Sun's gravity and slung around the star. This has now allowed IBEX to capture the most complete glimpse of the material that travels in the galactic wind in the space between star systems. The results indicate this material doesn't look like the same material that makes up our solar system.
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