What happens at the edge of the solar system?

This is a drawing of what the edge of the solar system might look like, as envisioned by plasma physicist Merav Opher. One of the few women in this field, Opher is also one of the top scientists, of any gender, studying what happens at the edges of space. John Rennie has written a great profile of Opher and her work. You really should read it. I like Rennie's work a lot. He's one of those amazing writers who can make abstract, theoretical physics feel as immediate, intense, and important as it actually is. To wit:

"The edge of the solar system" is more than a turn of phrase. A tenuous, invisible wind of ionized gas billows off the sun at a million miles per hour, carrying with it the sun's magnetic field. It does not radiate out infinitely: far beyond Pluto's orbit, this solar wind abruptly slams into the thin interstellar medium and the scattered gaseous remnants of exploded stars. That border defines what astronomers call the heliosphere.

Just a few years ago, Opher played a key role in explaining why the heliosphere is unexpectedly lopsided and off-kilter. Now an assistant professor in Boston University's astronomy department, Opher is interpeting data that suggests that part of the heliosphere's edge may be a churning magnetic froth, which could have broad implications for astrophysics.

Read the full profile at Txchnologist