For the past 11 years, NASA scientists have been studying data from the IBEX spacecraft to study how the helism changes over time. The data collected by the spacecraft covers the entire solar cycle, approximately 11 years. In this solar cycle, the sun’s activity goes from high activity to low activity, and then returns to high activity.
IBEX has a long track record in collecting solar data and reveals how the heliosphere works on its edges. The results showed that the movement of the sun sphere was so detailed that scientists were able to sketch out its shape. The exact shape of the sunball layer has been debated for years.
IBEX, short for interstellar boundary detectors, has been observing the boundaries to interstellar space for more than a decade to clarify the location of our solar system and the rest of the Milky Way. As the sun moves through the interstellar medium, it produces a hot, dense wave, similar to the way the ship’s front end moves in the water, the researchers said. Scientists call the universe near where we live a local fluff, the super-hot gas cloud that blooms around us. Where local fluff meets the solar wind, the edge of the solar sphere, known as the sun top, is formed. Inside the sun’s top is a volatile area called the sun.
The focus of IBEX is called high-energy neutral atoms or ENA particles, which form in that distant space region. ENA is produced when hot, charged particles like those in the sun’s clouds meet cold neutral particles like those that flow in interstellar space. An interesting fact about neutral atoms is that they are moved by the sun’s magnetic field, and neutral particles move almost in a straight line during a collision. IBEX’s mission is to investigate particles in space and pay attention to their direction and energy. It detects one about every second, allowing it to draw interstellar boundaries.