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They got the right beep: A
This image from Parker Solar Probe's WISPR (Wide-field Imager for Solar Probe) instrument shows a coronal streamer, seen over the east limb of the Sun on Nov. 8, 2018, at 1:12 a.m. EST. Coronal streamers are structures of solar material within the Sun's atmosphere, the corona, that usually overlie regions of increased solar activity. The fine structure of the streamer is very clear, with at least two rays visible. Parker Solar Probe was about 16.9 million miles from the Sun's surface when this image was taken. The bright object near the center of the image is Jupiter, and the dark spots are a result of background correction.
Parker Solar Probe's reports indicate that good science data was collected during the first solar encounter, and the data itself began downlinking to Earth on Dec. 7. Because of the relative positions of Parker Solar Probe, the Sun and Earth and their effects on radio transmission, some of the science data from this encounter will not downlink until after the mission's second solar encounter in April 2019.
Parker Solar Probe is designed to address three major questions about the physics of the Sun. First: How is the Sun's outer atmosphere, the corona, heated to temperatures about 300 times higher than the visible surface below? Second—how is the solar wind accelerated so quickly to the high speeds we observe? And finally, how do some of the Sun's most energetic particles rocket away from the Sun at more than half the speed of light? Read more at: phys.org...
This is the first NASA mission to be named for a living individual," said Fox. "Gene Parker's revolutionary paper predicted the heating and expansion of the corona and solar wind. Now, with Parker Solar Probe we are able to truly understand what drives that constant flow out to the edge of the heliosphere." Read more at: phys.org...
The heliosphere has a greater extent during Solar maximum, yes. But to say the Voyagers have left the Solar System is not accurate. The Oort cloud extends far beyond the heliosphere but is, indeed, part of the Solar System.
If Voyager 2 would still have left the solar system? Would the solar system be bigger at peaks in the cycle?
Just as dust gathers in corners and along bookshelves in our homes, dust piles up in space too. But when the dust settles in the solar system, it's often in rings. Several dust rings circle the Sun. The rings trace the orbits of planets, whose gravity tugs dust into place around the Sun, as it drifts by on its way to the center of the solar system.
Two recent studies report new discoveries of dust rings in the inner solar system. One study uses NASA data to outline evidence for a dust ring around the Sun at Mercury's orbit. A second study from NASA identifies the likely source of the dust ring at Venus' orbit: a group of never-before-detected asteroids co-orbiting with the planet.
"It's not every day you get to discover something new in the inner solar system," said Marc Kuchner, an author on the Venus study and astrophysicist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. "This is right in our neighborhood."