Nasa craft finds 'alien' particles
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.