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Space Science

Giant Ribbon Discovered At Edge of Solar System 251

Posted by kdawson
from the gift-wrapped dept.
beadwindow writes "NASA's IBEX (Interstellar Boundary Explorer) spacecraft has made the first all-sky maps of the heliosphere and the results have taken researchers by surprise. The maps are bisected by a bright, winding ribbon of unknown origin: 'This is a shocking new result,' says IBEX principal investigator Dave McComas of the Southwest Research Institute. 'We had no idea this ribbon existed — or what has created it. Our previous ideas about the outer heliosphere are going to have to be revised.' Another NASA scientist notes, '"This ribbon winds between the two Voyager spacecraft and was not observed by either of them.'"
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Giant Ribbon Discovered At Edge of Solar System

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  • by wizardforce (1005805) on Saturday October 17, 2009 @06:00PM (#29780263) Journal

    FTA:

    One important clue: The ribbon runs perpendicular to the direction of the galactic magnetic field just outside the heliosphere,

    It looks like the ribbon is a side effect of the interaction between the galactic magnetic field and the heliosphere. It's possible that the interaction between the two causes particles to either collect in that region or direct those particles from that region toward Earth.

  • by dhanson865 (1134161) on Saturday October 17, 2009 @06:46PM (#29780553)

    It's possible that the interaction between the two causes particles to either collect in that region or direct those particles from that region toward Earth

    Other than it's where you live what is your fixation with the Earth? I'm assuming you should have said towards the SUN since it happens to be the center point of the system as a whole. Or am I missing something technical that somehow shows that the earth is specifically effecting this interaction?

  • by CheshireCatCO (185193) on Saturday October 17, 2009 @06:48PM (#29780565) Homepage

    I disagree. The probability of the ribbon running perpindicular to the galactic magnetic field is pretty low if it's a coincidence and it's not implausible that there are interactions between the heliosphere and the magnetic field (given that the heliosphere is set by plasma interactions and all, especially). So to infer that the galactic magnetic field plays a role is perfectly reasonable.

    Perhaps you mean that it isn't *proof* that the galactic magnetic field is responsible? (Which is true. Granted, there is no proof in science, just sometimes strong evidence. Which this isn't, either.)

  • by lousyd (459028) on Saturday October 17, 2009 @06:58PM (#29780629)

    This "ribbon" escaped detection by two former Voyager spacecraft, and is only now being detected by some new spacecraft that happened to be looking for something different. This "ribbon" is a ribbon by some specific property.

    It's amazing, to me, how what we see is influenced to a great extent by what we're looking for. The manifold possibilities the universe presents to us!

  • by ls671 (1122017) * on Saturday October 17, 2009 @06:58PM (#29780631) Homepage

    I like the GP suggestion, in scientific thinking, you *need* to make hypothesis and try to validate them.

    What if the ribbons were just Galactic Northern Lights ? ;-))

    There is nothing wrong with trying to guess in science as long as you categorize your thoughts as hypothesis...

  • Re:Ribbon? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by superslacker87 (998043) on Saturday October 17, 2009 @07:53PM (#29780895)

    Bill Gates must be God?

    We are witnessing the birth of a new dogma: the Holy Quaternity.

    You're late to the party, Bro.

    Catholics have been doing that with Mary for centuries now.

  • Gift (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BlueBoxSW.com (745855) on Saturday October 17, 2009 @08:10PM (#29780975) Homepage

    It just means that life, the universe, and everything is a gift.

  • by CheshireCatCO (185193) on Saturday October 17, 2009 @08:12PM (#29780987) Homepage

    The thing being... we have a 2D view of a 3D object. From our perspective it runs perpendicular to the axis of the magnetic field. But without a second observation point that's far enough away from the original observation point, we can't actually know that it actually *is* perpendicular to the axis, or whether it's an optical illusion and really going off at some oddball angle.

    Again, sure. But we got what we got. And, once again, what's being suggested isn't that we know that these two things are connected. Merely that it'd be a heckuva coincidence if they weren't. If I hear a scream and rush around the corner to see someone unconscious on the sidewalk, I'm going to assume that the two are connected until I get further information suggesting otherwise. Certainly as I try to figure out what happened, that's my starting position. And similarly, the good folks working on this ribbon mystery are going to start by looking for ways of connecting the ribbon to the galactic magnetic field. They might be wrong. That might get them nowhere. But you start where the initial set of clues lead you and work from there.

    So, once again: no one is saying that we know that the two are connected. It's just a reasonably strong hint in the initial stages of investigating a new phenomenon.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 17, 2009 @09:57PM (#29781429)

    Therefore no reason to suppose they exist.

  • Re:Prediction (Score:2, Insightful)

    by sg_oneill (159032) on Sunday October 18, 2009 @12:02AM (#29781835)

    You can't prove all 'gods' dont exist, but pretty much all the 'gods' in the pantheon of human beliefs tend to have claims about them that can be tested, so far not looking good for the theists. We can pretty much rule out the biblical Judeo god (christianity, islam and judaism) because theres a LOT of claims about reality that contradict science (7 day creation, 6000 years old, giant wierd flood, space made of water, etc) The hindu conception is a little more plausible in terms of time spans, but still makes claims that don't hold up under the microscope. No idea about the Sikh concept. Budhism? I think you'll find the same problems with hinduism, but possibly compounded by different schools of thought. Admittedly I dont know much about the specific claims of much outside the judeo-christian-muslim religions ,but its not the point. The point is you CAN test the individual claims, unless its a truly unknowable god being proposed in which case why even bother, its not like theres any proposed negative outcomes from not caring.

  • Re:Prediction (Score:2, Insightful)

    by t_ban (875088) <tathagatab@nOsPAm.gmail.com> on Sunday October 18, 2009 @07:32AM (#29783217) Homepage

    The hindu conception is a little more plausible in terms of time spans, but still makes claims that don't hold up under the microscope. No idea about the Sikh concept. Budhism? I think you'll find the same problems with hinduism, but possibly compounded by different schools of thought. Admittedly I dont know much about the specific claims of much outside the judeo-christian-muslim religions ,but its not the point.

    Hmmm. So you

    o tackle three world religions one by one

    o trash all of them

    o admit you don't know much about any of them

    o claim that your ignorance is not the point, your uninformed opinions are still correct

    and you have been modded insightful. Well done, slashdot.

    FYI, Buddhism (note the spelling) does not speak of a god.

  • No, just no. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 18, 2009 @11:54AM (#29784643)

    religion tells you how to live your life

    ...

    you are being phobic of a harmless word: "religion"

    No, that certainly doesn't sound like a harmless word to me... Quite the opposite. Reminds me of one of my favorite quotations.

    Morality means doing what is right regardless of what you are told. Religion means doing what you are told regardless of what is right.

    Religion is always about something else telling you how to live your life and what thoughts are right. In addition, this "something else" is an unproven, supernatural entity.

    if you reject all traditional religion's codes of conduct, that doesn't mean you are nonreligious, it just means you follow your own unique religion. if you claim to follow no code of conduct, this is a religion as well.

    Now you are horribly mixing religion, philosophy and morals together as they all meant the same things. They are different words for a reason: They have different meanings.

    how peaceful and prosperous a society is is pretty much directly proportional to how many people get that essential separation about science and religion in their cognition

    It is true but it is also funny that separation of the two also directly correlates with how loosely people let religion dictate their life in a given society.

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