Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Spacecraft Measurements Indicate Shifting Interstellar Wind

timothy posted about a year ago | from the hey-it's-breezy-in-here dept.

Space 75

Weather on Earth might be shifting in part because of human activity, but larger context in which the Earth moves has some trends to deal with as well, according to new research published in Science and summarized by Science Now: "As Earth and the other planets orbit the sun, the solar system itself travels through space. Its slow journey is taking it though a wispy expanse of gas called the Local Interstellar Cloud. Now, astronomers have discovered signs of potential turbulence in the cloud, indicated by a shift in direction of helium atoms that flow into the solar system. If the shift is real and continues for hundreds to thousands of years—a dicey extrapolation—it could be a harbinger of more dramatic changes in our solar system, notes study co-author David McComas of the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. ... To detect the wind shift, researchers drew on measurements by 11 spacecraft and satellites that have recorded directly or indirectly the flow of helium atoms into the solar system. Many kinds of atoms infiltrate the heliosphere, but helium is a particularly good tracer for all of them because it is abundant and typically survives in its uncharged, atomic state all the way to Earth’s orbit, [study co-author Priscilla] Frisch says."

cancel ×

75 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

WE'RE DOOMED!!! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44787427)

it's coming for us. we're all dead! of course, we will be by the time it gets here.

Re:WE'RE DOOMED!!! (0)

Cryacin (657549) | about a year ago | (#44787559)

Yeah, I can see how being exposed to a flowing expanse of hot gas can be a problem.

Re:WE'RE DOOMED!!! (1, Funny)

gagol (583737) | about a year ago | (#44787701)

I remember a documentary about "the expense" couple years ago. It is not a good place to be! </startrek-reference>

Helium? (1)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | about a year ago | (#44788729)

Helium, hah! According to Asimov [wikipedia.org] , it's the flows of carbon into the star that can cause it to go nova.

Re:WE'RE DOOMED!!! (5, Funny)

Sable Drakon (831800) | about a year ago | (#44787703)

I'm not sure about that. People survive poticial rallies all the time, the source of expanding hot gas directly behind the podium.

Re:WE'RE DOOMED!!! (3, Funny)

Shavano (2541114) | about a year ago | (#44789179)

I'm not sure about that. People survive poticial rallies all the time, the source of expanding hot gas directly behind the podium.

I've seen what that does to their behavior sometimes. It's not as harmless as you think.

Re: WE'RE DOOMED!!! (2)

hAckz0r (989977) | about a year ago | (#44789063)

I know. I have been living near DC for quite a while and I can asure you hot gas does have an effect on everything. Usually by inaction, but still, you never know what stupid things it will do next. We better monitor it closely.

Re:WE'RE DOOMED!!! (0)

Shavano (2541114) | about a year ago | (#44787831)

it's coming for us. we're all dead! of course, we will be by the time it gets here.

I can tell you're excited because you're starting to sound a little squeaky.

Re:WE'RE DOOMED!!! (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about a year ago | (#44789203)

Uh, whoever modded that guy's comment offtopic needs more coffee. It wasn't a hilarious joke and was kind of obvious, but it's on topic.

OK, I guess I need to metamoderate...

BTW, my comment is off topic (yes, I checked the "no bonus" buttons").

That's a sign of things to come. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44787473)

Most likely there's been a collapse of the black holes at the center of the galaxy, and oncoming rush of radiation will obliterate life on Earth.

Our only hope? An alien artifact...shaped like a torus.

Re:That's a sign of things to come. (2, Funny)

davester666 (731373) | about a year ago | (#44787489)

Are they sure it wasn't just God farting?

Re:That's a sign of things to come. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44787517)

Positive. God is a Kzinti, their farts have a meaty smell to them.

Re:That's a sign of things to come. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44789395)

I'm a Kdaptist, you insensitive clod!

Re:That's a sign of things to come. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44792819)

That's the torus.

Re:That's a sign of things to come. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44788265)

A donut?

Hmmmmmm. donuts.

Re:That's a sign of things to come. (1)

CptNerd (455084) | about a year ago | (#44788379)

Nah, it's a "Big Bagel [youtu.be]

Just more proof (5, Funny)

Nidi62 (1525137) | about a year ago | (#44787499)

See how bad global warming is getting? We are now even screwing with the weather in space!

Re:Just more proof (5, Funny)

sumdumass (711423) | about a year ago | (#44787525)

Well, we knew it was only a matter of time with all the global warming happening on the other planets too. Maybe we can plant some trees in space or something?

Re:Just more proof (1)

gagol (583737) | about a year ago | (#44787531)

algea is more effective, we should start terraforming europa now!

Re:Just more proof (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44788237)

global warming happening on the other planets too.

That has to be my favorite b.s. anti-global warming story from the past decade... it was printed in the National Post ( who print a lot of non-journalistic stories on their "comments" page.. where even the Financial Post section editor goes to print stories he doesn't seem to want to back up with journalistic integrity ).
Anyways.. the "many planets warming" story was one of the easiest to check into ... just google the relevant words for the reports and select the NASA pages.. and viola.. planets are hotter near their equator, Uranus is gets hotter in it's elliptical orbit when near the sun and Moons of Jupiter are hotter when they aren't in the planets shadow.. duh! Of course all of these are relevant to NASA research... but have nothing to do with global warming in the way the Post and many other papers sensationalized.

Re:Just more proof (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44788461)

Idiot. You think the Earth gets "hotter" when it gets closer to the sun, too? That's absolutely not true. Distance from the sun has a minimal impact on temperature. Angle of sunlight through the atmosphere (affected by the tilt in the Earth's axis of rotation) is responsible for the seasons. So if distance from the sun doesn't heat or cool the Earth, imagine what an impact it has on Uranus. Zero.

Idiot yourself. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44788831)

Yes, the earth DOES get hotter when moving closer to the sun.

Even you say so:

"Distance from the sun has a minimal impact on temperature."

So it does have an effect on temperature, whilst this:

" Angle of sunlight through the atmosphere (affected by the tilt in the Earth's axis of rotation) is responsible for the seasons"

HAS NO EFFECT ON THE GLOBE SINCE IT'S A GLOBE!!!

You see when one half of the globe is getting a hotter season, the other side is getting a COLDER season.

"So if distance from the sun doesn't heat or cool the Earth"

Since it DOES, the conditional clause doesn't happen.

"imagine what an impact it has on Uranus."

Same as earth: WARMS OR COOLS IT.

Fucking moronic dickhead, learn what the fuck is going on before making a complete and utter fucking moron laughing stock of yourself in public.

Re:Idiot yourself. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44789315)

It seems that the sun had a severe impact on your upper globe...

Re:Just more proof (1)

Muros (1167213) | about a year ago | (#44790489)

Idiot. You think the Earth gets "hotter" when it gets closer to the sun, too? That's absolutely not true. Distance from the sun has a minimal impact on temperature. Angle of sunlight through the atmosphere (affected by the tilt in the Earth's axis of rotation) is responsible for the seasons. So if distance from the sun doesn't heat or cool the Earth, imagine what an impact it has on Uranus. Zero.

The amount of light from the sun is inversely proportional to the square of the distance from the sun. For Earth, that would mean we receive at aphelion 93.533% of we get at perihelion. On Uranus due to its more eccentric orbit, that figure is 83.716%. Those figures are based on orbital data on wikipedia so may not be entirely accurate, but it does show that Uranus is more susceptible to change based on what part of its orbital cycle it is in than Earth is.

Re:Just more proof (1)

gzuckier (1155781) | about a year ago | (#44799759)

Best ever was one guy who posted quite seriously that in the neighborhood of Jupiter's Red Spot it was experiencing global warming, locally.

Re:Just more proof (1)

gzuckier (1155781) | about a year ago | (#44799831)

Of course, the whole "global warming everywhere in the solar system" can be dismissed out of hand by considering the number of events mentioned; in a system of 9(ish) planets, however many moons, and other odd bodies, presenting a list of 4 or 5 which are getting warmer is like proving a coin is heads on both sides because you have evidence that it came up heads half a dozen times when you flipped it 50 times.

Some dumbass is right. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44788815)

Because some dumbass (i.e. you, in case you didn't get it) thinks that we have enough measurements to measure global warming on other planets, but not enough to measure it here on earth, thinks that when we have summer, it's because the sun is hotter (or that every planet has a year of the same length as ours) and thinks that every planet is experiencing global warming.

All so they can state that it isn't CO2 produced from humans, so he doesn't have to cut back and change his actions (not necessarily leading to less stuff being made, bought, sold or earned, it's only and purely a change in actions).

Because this dumbass is a lazy self-centred little prick.

I also note that not one "skeptic" has a problem with the sparse and remote measurements made here, whereas when it comes to a climate database of 100,000's of sensors "You're not measuring the right thing!!!" whines abound from them.

Re:Some dumbass is right. (1)

sumdumass (711423) | about a year ago | (#44793165)

Sigh.

don't get your panties in a knot just because I made a joke with your religion in it.

Re:Some dumbass is right. (1)

gzuckier (1155781) | about a year ago | (#44799881)

you'd think that if the solar system was heating up due to the sun or whatever, the moon might be warming too. we can measure its temp almost as well as we can the earth's, and it is as good a control for what would happen to the temp of a body in this locality without an atmosphere that we have. but the denialists are always more interested in the temperature on Pluto, whose very existence we have only known for less than one of its years.

Re:Just more proof (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44789843)

Maybe we can plant some trees in space or something?

A tree made of a growing crystal might be a splendid idea, for the future.

It's raining helium (0)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | about a year ago | (#44787595)

The helium drops were coming down straight just a few hundred years ago, and now they're angled slightly differently... I hope we start hearing about helium rain in the House because this Syria stuff is boring.

Re:It's raining helium (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44787735)

Trayvon Martin, the NSA, and so on. No matter how farfetched or ridiculous the link is just crowbar and shoehorn in something that gets those clicks.
http://www.sportpila.com [sportpila.com]

Re:Just more proof (1)

tysonedwards (969693) | about a year ago | (#44787707)

The universe is doomed! Doomed!

Re:Just more proof (1)

gagol (583737) | about a year ago | (#44788207)

Yes, it is doomed. Our grand, grand, grand (x10^50000) children will have to do something about it. In ghe meantime, I suggest living a rich and fulfilling life!

Re:Just more proof (1)

Mitchell314 (1576581) | about a year ago | (#44788277)

Turn into floating machines, go back in time through some paradox machine, and kill their ancestors on behest of a crazy man on an flying aircraft carrier?

Re:Just more proof (1)

gagol (583737) | about a year ago | (#44788287)

Not sure what you are trying to say (frenchie here), but why not! Seems a sensible solution to some problem...

Re:Just more proof (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44788301)

Yup its, all just P.C. posing a greed for "carbon taxes". Kinda figured that years ago. Also goes to show how messed up the bad science is getting.

Re:Just more proof (1)

gravis777 (123605) | about a year ago | (#44797221)

It's all a conspericy! The weather in space is causing the changes on Earth! There is no such thing as global warming - its a myth dreamed up by tree huggers!

Re: Just more proof......Now you've done it! (1)

CHIT2ME (2667601) | about a year ago | (#44803565)

I know you were trying to be funny (ha ha), but, now all the climate change deniers will latch onto this as "proof" that man has no part to play in climate change. Remember, there are two types of climate change deniers; A: those who have a profit motive, i.e. oil companies, coal producers, etc., etc. and B: those who are not well educated enough to understand the science behind it and buy into the propaganda of group "A". Why do you think the Republicans are cutting funding for education across the land as fast as they can?

Nothing to it (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44787683)

Absolute baloney. We, as scientists, have observed our climate for over 10 years and can completely rule out the possibility of anything other than man made causes to the differing severity of the recent seasons. Many hundreds, perhaps thousands, of scientists are in agreement with these observations so it's obvious that those who disagree are simply messed up.

Re:Nothing to it (1)

Dunbal (464142) | about a year ago | (#44788473)

Any scientist who claims he can "absolutely rule out" anything is not a scientist at all. Science is about proving the hypothesis, not disproving unknown hypotheses. Or are you so arrogant that you think you know everything?

Re: Nothing to it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44788763)

As a scientist I can absolutely rule out that OP is a scientist. D'oh, that breaks your "no absolutes" rule.

Re: Nothing to it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44789379)

I would think you are not a scientist if you have not seen other scientists let political views get in the way of interpreting science results, or just not being good at stuff outside the field they originally worked in (or not good in any field). Plus the overlap between trolls and scientists is not a null set.

Re: Nothing to it (1)

Dunbal (464142) | about a year ago | (#44790639)

Since this is slashdot not a scientific article, I'm allowed some literary license. But you're right. I should have said "I don't believe he's a good scientist".

Re: Nothing to it (1)

gzuckier (1155781) | about a year ago | (#44800041)

This leaves open the hypothesis that he is an evil scientist. Certainly denialists believe the world is full of them.

Re:Nothing to it (1)

gzuckier (1155781) | about a year ago | (#44800021)

Right, just like Newton proved F=MA. Until it was disproved by the unknown hypothesis of relativity.
You can't ever prove a hypothesis in the physical sciences. Any hypothesis, however well developed and conforming to the data and however clear the mechanism, can always be countered with "No it's not, it might be something else entirely you don't know about." For example, the unbreakable critique of evolution, geological theory, etc. that God made the earth 6000 years ago, exactly as it would appear if it were billions of years old. This is a critical brick in the edifice of AGW denialism. "It might be something else you don't know about that looks just exactly like the AGW effect you theorize, while something else you don't know about prevents the AGW effect you theorize from occurring". See also "It's not smoking that causes cancer, it might be something else you don't know about". That's why Occam shaves.
Whereas disproving a negative, even an unknown negative, is trivially easy. The fact that I can see a yellow house disproves numerous unknown hypotheses, such as that there are no houses, there are no yellow houses, there are no yellow houses visible in my vicinity, and so on quite literally ad infinitum.

Vogon Construction Marker (5, Funny)

wrackspurt (3028771) | about a year ago | (#44787693)

It's actually a marker laid down by the Vogon construction fleet for the up coming Hyper Space Express Route.

Re:Vogon Construction Marker (2)

vjoel (945280) | about a year ago | (#44787857)

It's actually a marker laid down by the Vogon construction fleet for the up coming Hyper Space Express Route.

Nope. Eddies in the space-time continuum. ("And this is his sofa, is it?")

Global Warming Link (0)

VinylRecords (1292374) | about a year ago | (#44787709)

"Weather on Earth might be shifting in part because of human activity....".

I think every /. article should start out with some click-baiting about something. Global warming, Mitt Romney, New Age of Linux, Trayvon Martin, the NSA, and so on. No matter how farfetched or ridiculous the link is just crowbar and shoehorn in something that gets those clicks. Get those clicks!

Re:Global Warming Link (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44787753)

The NSA uncovered a plot by Mitt Romney to kill Trayvon Martin in hopes of bringing about the New Age of Linux, thereby staving off Global Warming.

Re:Global Warming Link (1)

gagol (583737) | about a year ago | (#44788217)

Please dont get the National Spies Association in this, they do very important work! (/me try to cover reak huge smile)

You guessed it... (3, Funny)

Jay Vollmer (2882139) | about a year ago | (#44787759)

It's coming from uranus.

AC (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44787939)

Everyone just turn your thermostats all the way down, open your refrigerator doors, and open your freezer doors. That will fix everything at the price of one high electric bill. My mom always told me she wasn't paying to cool the outside when I kept the door to the house open too long. Mom is always right.

 
Yes, I am joking.

Okay... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44787943)

Who farted?

Re:Okay... (1)

gagol (583737) | about a year ago | (#44788229)

Given we are talking about helium, may I suggest it is a galactic clown? Or maybe his royal Noodle highness with many respactable appendages!

Re:Helium (2)

John.Banister (1291556) | about a year ago | (#44789011)

Dominar Rygel XVI

Re:Helium (1)

cusco (717999) | about a year ago | (#44797565)

We are so frelled . . .

In 4.5 billion years not much has happened (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year ago | (#44787973)

What could possibly go wrong now?

Termination shock vs. conservative shock (5, Interesting)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | about a year ago | (#44787979)

Note that the quoted article says absolutely nothing about "weather on Earth". It's talking about "dramatic changes in our solar system", i.e. a distortion in the shape of the termination shock, which lies 75 to 90 AU away from the sun. That is an effective boundary between the heliosphere and the ISM, where the solar wind and the interstellar wind are equally dominant.

Neptune orbits at 30 AU, but the "solar system" is understood to extend at least to the Oort cloud, 50000 AU distant. Earth orbits at 1 AU which is well inside the heliosphere, where the solar wind is much more important. That's why these spacecraft have to look at neutral helium atoms, which are the only interstellar wind components that can actually make it down here without being deflected by solar magnetic fields. Outside the solar system they have a rough density of about ten helium atoms per mL.

This has much less influence on the Earth's climate than the "sunspot activity" referred to by politicians, but you can expect to hear a lot of crap soon, e.g. "Weather on Earth might be shifting in part because of human activity, but larger context in which the Earth moves has some trends to deal with as well".

Re:Termination shock vs. conservative shock (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44788587)

Whether it's human-caused or not, we should be fighting pollution for its own sake. Even if it has no affect on global warming, we should be environmentally conscious.

Re:Termination shock vs. conservative shock (1)

sajaki (1287838) | about a year ago | (#44788983)

"75 to 90 AU away from the sun" and yet you think it's human-caused... typical puny human illusions of grandeur...

Re:Termination shock vs. conservative shock (1)

Oligonicella (659917) | about a year ago | (#44789033)

You have to have misposted your statement. S/he said nothing of the sort.

fascinating (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44788463)

I dont think theirs too many brainstorms that reploed to this post or understand th technology significance. Oh well ill just say I undestood it oh so clear and excited not terrified.

Great! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44788713)

Good to see science catching up to New Age, again ;-)

Swoden Files: NSA Hacks Solar Wind (1)

eatvegetables (914186) | about a year ago | (#44788899)

In an unexpected turn of events, The GuardTimesPost Daily Speigel reports that recently detected changes in the solar wind are the results of heretofore covertly secret and highly clandestine spying activities by none other than the National Septuagenarian Association (NSA)!

According to documents provided by Beatrice Snowden, former NSA Social Activities and Black Ops Administrator, NSA Director General Keith-Tricky-Dick Cheney personally authorized a highly trained cadre of HVAC technicians to construct an unholy abomination known as the Passing Solar Wind-inator (PSW). Completed in January of this year, the PSW secretly ties into the HVAC systems of ALL American households with a mean household occupant age of 70 years old or greater. In a clear breach of U.S. Constitutional protections against unreasonable search and seizure, the PSW siphons off all human, canine, and feline bodily emanations from the affected homes, concentrates them, and then funnels the emanations into a giant, multi-thousand dollar underground collection facility buried somewhere in the deserts of Utah.

The exact methodology is still unclear, however, the flatulance concentrate is then force fed to baby artic seal pups transforming their mitochondrial DNA into super powerful rare earth magnets. Simultaneously and inexplicably the baby seal pups also gain the ability to psychicly control ambient magnetic fields. Naturally, full baby seal cranial evacuation is the final step in the transformation process. The end product is a biomechanical monstrosity, the PSW.

Multiple power point presentation provided by Snowden show General Cheney sitting astride his massive heap of squirming and super magnetically charged seal pups. Heaving to and fro, the pups writhe in ecstasy as the general directs their collective psycho-magnetic powers, altering the path of helium atoms traversing our solar system.

The end result, of course, is that the NSA can now listen in on every canasta game in the world! Russian President Putin has yet to comment on this matter.

Comments on here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44789331)

Seriously, you guys are reaching youtube-comment-section levels...

The more things change... (1)

argStyopa (232550) | about a year ago | (#44789625)

"Weather on Earth might be shifting in part because of human activity,"....It sort of starts to sound like Medivalist's cant, doesn't it?

In the same sense that, for them, God suffused everything ("Glory be to God, the cow calved today and I didn't stub my toe!"), AGW is referenced ever-more frequently entirely out of context ("Humans are changing the climate, and my coffee was too hot this morning, I think I'll read the paper!").

Funny, that.

helium atoms that flow into the solar system (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44790173)

we should totes mine these with interstellar 3D printers and stuff.

Re: helium atoms that flow into the solar system (1)

gzuckier (1155781) | about a year ago | (#44800303)

Absolutely. The helium supply on earth is fixed, it's hard to make any without kicking up a big mess, and we're going to run out, just when we need it for air transport because we won't have hydrocarbon fuel any more.
http://www.livescience.com/38990-looming-helium-shortage.html [livescience.com]

Shifting wind? (1)

PPH (736903) | about a year ago | (#44790449)

No problem. We'll just change tack.

"Turbulence in the cloud" (1)

Psychophrenes (1600027) | about a year ago | (#44796323)

Turbulence As A Service ?

only now? (1)

hesaigo999ca (786966) | about a year ago | (#44796913)

I have been saying this on /. for 10 years atleast! Now finally someone gets it, yes there are 3 orbits to the earth, the daily, and the yearly and the ??? which comes from the orbit we are in from the solar system spinning inside the galaxy, which "IT" could affect the gravity/orbit of the other 2.

If you take a coin and put it on a table top to spin it and use your finger to spin it, you will see that eventually gravity will affect the orbit as it slows down, but if it did not slow down it would still be affected in terms of the direction the coin would be spinning in. I have seen this and consider this to be more the reason why we haveglobal events then say global warming being the cause. The climate changes and locations on the planet are getting strange weather but only strange to that location, but say you shifted the worlds axis by 1.5 degrees, then you would see a change everywhere, and the weather would be normal for that location based on the new degrees, although my example could be off degree wise, you get the picture.

I am no scientist yet can figure this out, so how much more should the real scientist know , or maybe they knew all along but didnt want the world to freak over this??

Re:only now? (1)

cusco (717999) | about a year ago | (#44798297)

WTF?
Check for New Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>