Sun’s shock wave goes missing

Spacecraft observations redraw astronomers’ ideas about the local stellar environment

By Nadia Drake, 11:02 AM May 10, 2012

The sun isn’t quite the speed demon scientists once suspected. It chugs around the galactic center at a relatively pokey 83,500 kilometers per hour — or roughly 11,000 kilometers per hour slower than expected, says a report appearing online May 10 in Science.

While that might not sound like a big deal, the sun’s slower pace clashes with theories describing the solar system’s local environment — a protective, sun-blown bubble called the heliosphere. The sun’s speed helps shape the size and b...

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