This so-called interstellar material was spotted by NASA’s Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX), a spacecraft that is studying the edge of the solar system from its orbit about 200,000 miles (322,000 kilometers) above Earth.
“This alien interstellar material is really the stuff that stars and planets and people are made of — it’s really important to be measuring it,” David McComas, IBEX principal investigator and assistant vice president of the Space Science and Engineering Division at Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, said in a news briefing today from NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C.
An international team of scientists presented new findings from IBEX, which included the first detection of alien particles of hydrogen, oxygen and neon, in addition to the confirmation of previously detected helium. While neon and oxygen can be found throughout the galaxy, researchers are still unsure about their distribution. But with the new observations from IBEX, scientists are better able to study the amounts of these elements, and their ratio to one another.
IBEX measures and counts particles called energetic neutral atoms, which are created in an area of our solar system known as the interstellar boundary region. Since its launch, the spacecraft has already made groundbreaking discoveries about the heliosphere, a protective bubble that shields our solar system from powerful, damaging cosmic rays.
Source: Fox News