An anonymous reader writes: Immediately after its 2008 launch, NASA's Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) spotted a curiosity in a thin slice of space: more particles streamed in through a long, skinny swath in the sky than anywhere else. Now, a new study uses IBEX data and simulations of the interstellar boundary to better describe space in our galactic neighborhood. The paper, published earlier this month in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, precisely determines the strength and direction of the magnetic field outside the heliosphere. Such information gives us a peek into the magnetic forces that dominate the galaxy beyond, teaching us more about our home in space. The new paper is based on one particular theory of the origin of the IBEX ribbon, in which the particles streaming in from the ribbon are actually solar material reflected back at us after a long journey to the edges of the Sun's magnetic boundaries.
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