Local Interstellar Cloud

4 years ago by in Astronomy, Astronomy, Featured Tagged: ,

The Local Interstellar Cloud (or Local Fluff or LIC) is the interstellar cloud roughly 30 light years or 9.2 parsecs across through which the Earth’s Solar System is currently moving. It is currently unknown if the Sun is embedded in the LIC, or in the region where the LIC is interacting with the neighboring G-cloud. The Solar System is thought to have entered the Local Interstellar Cloud at some time between 44,000 and 150,000 years ago and is expected to remain within it for another 10,000 to 20,000 years.


_barnard_68_eso The cloud has a temperature of about 6,000 K, about the same temperature as the surface of theSun. However, its specific heat capacity is very low because it is not very dense, with 0.3 atoms per cubic centimeter; less dense than the average for theinterstellar medium in the Milky Way (0.5 atoms/cm3), though six times denser than the gas in the Local Bubble (0.05 atoms/cm3) which surrounds the local cloud. In comparison, Earth’s atmosphere at the edge of space has 12 billion atoms per cubic centimeter, dropping to 52 million at 150 km.

The cloud is flowing outwards from the Scorpius-Centaurus Association, a stellar association that is a star-forming region.

The Local Interstellar Cloud’s potential effects on Earth are prevented by the solar wind and the Sun’s magnetic field. This interaction with the heliosphereis under study by the Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX), a NASA satellite mapping the boundary between the Solar System and interstellar space.




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