“Researchers drew on measurements by 11 spacecraft and satellites that have recorded directly or indirectly the flow of helium atoms into the solar system” http://bit.ly/1cLNGZD to detect a change in the region of space our solar system is moving through. Changes in the Local Interstellar Cloud could change the shape of the sun’s heliosphere, a bubble of charged particles emitted by the sun that helps define the extent of the solar system. The heliosphere deflects cosmic rays, which is good for life on Earth.
I bet the doomsday books and blogs are already gearing up thanks to this news.
But the change, if it persists, will be slow compared to a human life span, and not deadly. Do you remember the Internet rumors about Mars appearing as large as the moon in the sky? Last December was the end of the world? A rogue planet is sneaking up on us from the other side of the sun? Various alignments and conjunctions presage good or bad? Science rumors abound – check it out here Science is full of wonder and the universe is constantly changing, but be skeptical of any source WITH LOTS OF CAPITAL LETTERS. “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”
The illustration for this post is from NASA’s Hubble Telescope: a bow shock about half a light-year across, created by the heliosphere from the star L.L. Orion colliding supersonically with the gas and dust of the Orion Nebula. Our sun probably does not produce a similar bow shock with the Local Interstellar Cloud, but it’s a cool image.