Solar system inside a searing gas bubble

(CNN) — Ever feel like you live in a bubble?
You do. We all do.

Our whole solar system appears to, say space scientists, who published work last month corroborating its existence.

And, oh, what a bubble it is: About 300 light years long (about 1,764,000,000,000,000 miles), and its walls are made of hot gas. How hot? About a million degrees.

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It’s called the “Local Bubble” or “local hot bubble” and is shaped a little like a peanut.

Scientists believe it was formed by supernovas, the largest explosions in space, as NASA calls them, that occur when a large star blows up.
One supernova blasts out more energy in less than a second than our sun gives off in a million years, NASA says. A single explosion can outshine an entire galaxy.

‘Like popcorn’

They usually occur about twice a century in the Milky Way Galaxy. But about 10 million years ago, a slew of them exploded right near our solar system.
“Supernovas went off like popcorn,” NASA says.

In a universe about 13.8 billion years old, that’s a recent event. Humans did not yet walk the Earth 10 million years ago, but monkeys did.
Those supernovas may have sent our evolutionary ancestors running scared, but they weren’t enough to annihilate them.

Galactic hole

Fast forward 10 million years to the 1970s and 80s, when humans first began noticing what they’d later postulate was the bubble.
They were aiming more advanced telescopes at what’s called the interstellar medium.

Between the planets and the stars of our galaxy is not just empty space. There are gasses, dust, ions — and more — sweeping around.
When astronomers poked around in our solar system for it, they found little to nothing. It was like we were living in a virtually empty hole, one that has only a single atom per every liter of space.

Around the same time, sensors launched outside of Earth’s atmosphere revealed an abundance of something else coming from all directions — x-ray radiation.

The idea that we live in a bubble was born:

So much interstellar medium was gone, because the exploding supernovas have blown it away, and and left us surrounded with their remnants of radiating gas.

Doubt, corroboration

But some scientists, in recent years, cast doubt on the Local Bubble model, saying the radiation could be the result of “charge exchange” — passing solar winds stealing electrons and thereby emitting x-ray radiation.

Scientists from the University of Miami in Coral Gables picked up the gauntlet and developed a sensor to measure charge exchange radiation and fired it out of Earth’s atmosphere atop a small NASA rocket two years ago.
It only took about five minutes for the detector to take a reading. Analyzing the data, the scientists determined that only 40% of the background x-ray emanates from within our solar system.

The rest of the glow, they say, must come from the searing gaseous walls of a big bubble we live in.


5 thoughts on “Solar system inside a searing gas bubble

  1. Every time I read one of these posts of yours, I have to shake my head. Our State of Ohio legislature is currently debating House Bill 597. It’s to repeal Common Core. These morons want to teach Creationism as a science; your gas bubble would never work with that thinking. How stupid do you have to be to think we have learned all there is to know about science already?

    i.e. It used to be taught that the Sun revolved around Earth.

    1. NWON, the reason that I post science stories like these is to educate The People so they will have some reference point on which to judge a political point. Although I know that I do not reach a vast audience, nonetheless even one person can change the thinking of all of those who connect with that person.

      The religious ignorance of fundamentalists is mind boggling! Not only in matters like this current scientific hypothesis, but also in their reading of the Bible itself. Our current set of biblical fundamentalists are ignorant of the writing style of the authors of the Bible. The authors and those for whom the Bible was written understood that much of the dialogue therein was subtle, allegorical and mythical. Nuance was everything. Today all of that is lost on this literal crowd. It’s akin to reading a Shakespeare poem literally!

      Double stupidity!

      1. I feel good reading your “science” posts because it reassures me that the human race has not stopped researching and learning. The naysayers really annoy me because they refuse to even look at any newer science.

        One of my favorite cartoons shows a “folksy” family in a pickup truck. The child is trying to explain what climate change means. The father replies “If I need to learn sum science I’ll look in the Bible.”

  2. WOW! I just listened to a debate and the “religious” side was making unbelievable statements. When the error of their ways was pointed out, they accused the opposition of not being an “expert” in that particular field. When the opposition responded with a very credible source for the fact, the wingnut answered that there was still debate in that particular field of study.

    It’s like the climate change deniers claiming that climate change is still being debated by experts. It’s not. The “experts” denying climate change are usually not even in the field of climate science; I swear most of the climate change “expert” deniers have an education background in theology.

    You never know when you’ll have to rely on your personal knowledge to figure out who’s telling the truth and who’s fibbin’. You’re never too old to learn more!

    1. The climate-deniers are especially troublesome because of the seriousness of unmediated CO2 and CH4 accumulations in the atmosphere. Sadly, they are ‘useful idiots’ for the coal, gas and oil industries and their surrogates- the right wing talking heads.

      But don’t attempt to educate this set. If you do you are anti-American socialists!

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