Our solar system isn’t the good old circle or oval you might have thought it is. According to research reported on this week by National Geographic News, it is bullet-shaped.
The system travels within a bubble of solar wind—made of charged particles from the sun—called the heliosphere.
The edge of this bubble collides with the Milky Way galaxy’s magnetic field at a distance some 200 times farther from the sun than Earth is.
A research team led by Merav Opher at Virginia’s George Mason University found that, just outside the solar system, this interstellar magnetic field is inclined at a 60-degree angle relative to the plane of the Milky Way.
The solar system takes on its streamlined shape as it strikes the magnetic field at this angle, Opher explained.