News24

Nasa craft finds 'alien' particles

2012-02-01 22:36

Cape Town - A Nasa spacecraft has detected "alien" particles that come from beyond our solar system.

The Interstellar Boundary Explorer (Ibex) observed neutral atoms of hydrogen, helium, oxygen and neon breaching the solar system’s magnetic barrier and reaching Earth, Astronomynow.com reported.

"It's exciting to be able to have these first observations of alien matter - stuff that didn't come from our sun or the planets, but came from the outside of our solar system, from other parts of the galaxy," said David McComas, team leader for the Ibex programme.

The heliosphere is a magnetic bubble emanating from the sun that protects the solar system from charged particles.

Charged particles are usually deflected by the heliosphere around the sun, but the neutral particles are able to pass through because they lack charge.

Ibex detected the speed of the neutral helium atoms at 83 700 km/h, slower than the particles detected by the Ulysses probe.

An analysis of the new Ibex data compared the ratios of oxygen to neon from interstellar space with the ratios of these atoms native to our solar system.

The results show that our solar system appears to contain more oxygen than surrounding interstellar space.

Comments
  • Graeme - 2012-02-02 06:48

    Cape Town - A Nasa spacecraft has detected "alien" particles that come from beyond our solar system - Always thought the Bergies were a bit odd.

  • padayachee - 2012-02-02 06:50

    Crazy stuff...

  • marius.dumas - 2012-02-02 09:17

    When I first red this article I wondered why would NASA spend so much to puddle in the mud with things we already know about outer space and that with a few atoms. Considering the fact that the planets in our solar system exist from dust from outer space since our own solar system cannot produce heavy elements such as gold or uranium. Since we consist out of the dust from outer space, why on earth do we need to discover that matter exist in outer space? It’s kind of ridiculous to think the elements would be any different. It seems so ridiculous it even seemed untrue. But for a moment I wondered; NASA wouldn’t waste their time and money like this and wondered maybe the media is giving poor insight to what it’s all about. Then I red the attached article and got an entirely new insight and meaning to what NASA is actually busy with. They are sampling the gas cloud our solar system is moving through and thus also measuring the affect it has on the solar systems heliosphere. It tells us nothing about the universe, but it might tell us much about how radiation from outer space might affect us by the way the cloud affects the heliosphere of our solar system. It has nothing to do with discovering new “alien” particles in outer space. It’s so frustrating when the media always grabs the cat by its tail.

      Karmah - 2012-02-02 09:32

      Spot on =)

      TheSkepticDetective - 2012-02-02 09:53

      It's not exactly surprising that News24 has reported this article badly. Let's face it, their science editor is a moron. Just one correction, our sun and solar system formed in a cloud of gas and dust. They formed out of the same particles. Your first paragraph isn't exactly wrong, but it just seems a little confused. The sun would have coalesced first from the gas and dust and, as it spun faster and faster, the halo of matter around it would have been dragged into a disk, and the planets, moons, asteroids etc. would have formed from this disk. You are correct about the heavy elements not being formed in our solar system, they are formed by massive stars as they burn through their nuclear fuel. I hope this helps.

  • Treatwell Trey - 2012-02-02 13:19

    The tittle to this story is misleading I was expecting something solid

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