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Nature. 2008 Jul 3;454(7200):71-4. doi: 10.1038/nature07022.

An asymmetric solar wind termination shock.

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  • 1California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California 91125, USA.


Voyager 2 crossed the solar wind termination shock at 83.7 au in the southern hemisphere, approximately 10 au closer to the Sun than found by Voyager 1 in the north. This asymmetry could indicate an asymmetric pressure from an interstellar magnetic field, from transient-induced shock motion, or from the solar wind dynamic pressure. Here we report that the intensity of 4-5 MeV protons accelerated by the shock near Voyager 2 was three times that observed concurrently by Voyager 1, indicating differences in the shock at the two locations. (Companion papers report on the plasma, magnetic field, plasma-wave and lower energy particle observations at the shock.) Voyager 2 did not find the source of anomalous cosmic rays at the shock, suggesting that the source is elsewhere on the shock or in the heliosheath. The small intensity gradient of Galactic cosmic ray helium indicates that either the gradient is further out in the heliosheath or the local interstellar Galactic cosmic ray intensity is lower than expected.

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