This is a drawing of the heliosphere.
Click on image for full size
"Helios" is the ancient Greek word for the "sun". The Heliosphere is the entire region of space affected by the sun. The Heliosphere is like a bubble that has the planets and the Sun inside of it. Outside the bubble is interstellar space!
The Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 spacecraft have passed the orbit of Pluto. So, they are headed for the boundary of that Heliosphere bubble. That boundary between the Heliosphere and interstellar space is called the heliopause. They will then enter interstellar space where no spacecraft has ever gone before! The Voyager probes will probably reach the end of the heliosphere by ~2008. So, watch for the Voyager probes in the news!
Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!
Our online store
includes fun classroom activities
for you and your students. Issues of NESTA's quarterly journal, The Earth Scientist
are also full of classroom activities on different topics in Earth and space science!
You might also be interested in:
Pluto is a frigid ball of ice and rock that orbits far from the Sun on the frozen fringes of our Solar System. Considered a planet, though a rather odd one, from its discovery in 1930 until 2006, it was...more
Unexpected discoveries made by the two Voyager spacecrafts during their visits to the four largest planets in our solar system have changed the field of space science. Voyager 2 was launched on Aug. 2...more
The Sun is huge. It has an effect on things even if they are far from the Sun. The "bubble" where the Sun has an effect on things is called the heliosphere. It goes even past Pluto! The place...more
AU stands for Astronomical Units. It is an easy way to measure large distances in space. It is the distance between the Earth and the Sun, which is about 93 million miles. For really big distances, we...more
The solar wind is formed as the Sun's top layer blows off into space. It carries magnetic fields still attached to the Sun. Streams appear to flow into space as if they are spiraling out from the Sun,...more
For a planet to be affected by a blob of material being ejected by the sun, the planet must be in the path of the blob, as shown in this picture. The Earth and its magnetosphere are shown in the bottom...more
If someone says they saw an aurora, you might picture something like this. There is another type of aurora that we can't see. These aurora are called SAR arcs. The SAR stands for Stable Auroral Red. That...more