NASA's Interstellar Boundary Explorer, or IBEX, has just produced new images of the solar system that has shocked astronomers. This first full-sized map shows 9 billion miles of atoms surrounding the solar system that scientists are describing as looking like a ribbon. This completely defied expectations: astronomers believed the atoms were evenly distributed rather than densely packed together in this ribbon formation.
Take a look at the map for yourself.
National Geographic reports:
"Exactly where the [galaxy's] magnetic field is most wrapped around the outer boundary of the heliosphere, that's where the ribbon runs," [IBEX principal investigator David] McComas said.
"That could be an unbelievably remarkable coincidence, or it could be a fabulous clue that somehow this external magnetic field is actually imprinting onto our heliosphere through some process that we don't yet understand."
Read more from National Geographic about the discovery.
Read more from Science News about it here.