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View Full Version : Could coronal mass ejections be used to study the heliopause?



marsbug
2009-Dec-29, 07:54 PM
Coronal Mass Ejections (wikipedia article (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coronal_mass_ejection)) are huge blobs of plasma given off by the sun. They can reach speeds in the range of 3000km/second (thats just awesome, no particular relevance). Might it be possible to use one to probe the edge of the solar system by observing it as it reaches the heliopause (good animation of this here http://www.archive.org/details/CIL-10037)?

Do we have any instruments capable of detecting one from such a great distance? I couldn't find much information on what happens to one at the heliopause, but if any of the CME passes beyond it to the interstellar medium is there any information that could be gleaned from how it interacts with it?

The last stop my train of thought leads me to is that perhaps an advanced civilization would tailor a CME to act as a probe. If it is possible to get part of one to pass the heliopause it could reach the heliosphere of a nearby star in a relatively short time.

cran
2009-Dec-29, 11:02 PM
like this, perhaps?


NASA's Interstellar Boundary Explorer, or IBEX, spacecraft has made it possible for scientists to construct the first comprehensive sky map of our solar system and its location in the Milky Way galaxy. The new view will change the way researchers view and study the interaction between our galaxy and sun.
http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/ibex/allsky_map.html


CMEs can propagate from the Sun to the boundary with interstellar space. IBEX will study the interaction between the solar wind and the material beyond our solar system called the interstellar medium.
http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/ibex/IBEXPhoto6.html

marsbug
2009-Dec-29, 11:45 PM
Just like that! Thanks cran!