Probing the Edge of the Solar System:
Formation of an Unstable Jet-Sheet

M. Opher, P. C. Liewer, T. I. Gombosi, W. Manchester, D. L. DeZeeuw, I. Sokolov and G. Tóth

Astrophysical Journal, 591, L61-L65 (2003)

The Voyager spacecraft is now approaching the edge of the solar system. Near the boundary between the solar system and the interstellar medium we find that an unstable "jet-sheet" forms. The jet-sheet oscillates up and down because of a velocity shear instability. This result is due to a novel application of a state-of-the-art three-dimensional MHD code with a highly refined grid. We assume as a first approximation that the solar magnetic and rotation axes are aligned. The effect of a tilt of the magnetic axis with respect to the rotation axis remains to be seen. We include in the model self-consistently magnetic field effects in the interaction between the solar and interstellar winds. Previous studies of this interaction had poorer spatial resolution and did not include the solar magnetic field. This instability can affect the entry of energetic particles into the solar system and the intermixing of solar and interstellar material. The same effect found here is predicted for the interaction of rotating magnetized stars possessing supersonic winds and moving with respect to the interstellar medium, such as O stars.