Voyager 1 entered a strange and unexpected part of space within the solar system last August, scientists announced in three papers published yesterday.
A few different effects mark the area, which astronomers have dubbed the "heliosheath depletion region" or a "magnetic highway." The number of charged particles from the Sun there is very low. Measurements of cosmic rays from other, non-Sun sources, are high. Together, the measurements suggest a new boundary region between the heliosphere—the bubble around the Sun, in which the Sun exerts its influence—and interstellar space. Astronomers had not previously guessed such a region existed.
There's been plenty of talk about the Voyager 1's travels lately. Astronomers have been picking up these measurements over the past year. PopularScience.com posted about an increase in cosmic rays last June and this past March.
Everyone is excited for the Voyagers, which are the farthest human-made objects in space, to leave the heliosphere and enter interstellar space. That hasn't happened yet. Still, astronomers have picked up two of the three signs they expected to see when Voyager 1 exists the heliosphere, NASA reported. Scientists aren't sure exactly how large the heliosphere is, so they don't know when Voyager 1 will exit. It may be months or years.
The Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft blasted off from Earth in 1977. They bore, among their instruments, golden records with images and sounds including silhouettes of a man and a woman, images of human architecture, greetings in 55 languages, 90 minutes of music and other images and audio from Earth. Voyager 1 is now more than 11 billion miles away from home, while the Voyager 2 is about 9 billion miles away from Earth. Voyager 2 hasn't yet encountered the weird boundary region Voyager 1 has.
This news should be called olds, I've been hearing variations of it for most of my life.
I always believed if here ever was a tripwire, like the obelisk in 2001, leaving the heliosphere should be it, can't wait to see.
Here is a good read link about Voyager from NASA.
This man made object flying farther than any other
man made object into the cold, vacuum, depths of space with its solar radiation, still powered, communicating back to Earth with its sensors is
adaptation, there are far more people that haven't heard of this before than those that have.
Here is a good read link about Voyager from NASA.
"... Not content with simply being the man-made object to travel farthest from Earth, NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft recently entered a bizarre new region at the solar system’s edge that has physicists baffled. Their theories don’t predict anything like it.
Launched 36 years ago, Voyager 1 and its twin Voyager 2 made an unprecedented tour of the outer planets, returning spectacular data from their journey. The first Voyager sped out of the solar system in 1980 and it has since been edging closer and closer to interstellar space. The probe is currently out more than 120 times the distance between the Earth and the sun.
Scientists initially thought that Voyager’s transition into this new realm, where effects from the rest of the galaxy become more pronounced, would be gradual and unexciting. But it’s proven to be far more complicated than anything researchers had imagined, with the spacecraft now encountering a strange region that scientists are struggling to make sense of.
“The models that have been thought to predict what should happen are all incorrect,” said physicist Stamatios Krimigis of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, who is lead author of one of three new papers on Voyager appearing in Science on June 27. “We essentially have absolutely no reliable roadmap of what to expect at this point.”
The sun produces a plasma of charged particles called the solar wind, which get blown supersonically from its atmosphere at more than 1 million km/h. Some of these ions are thrown outward by as much as 10 percent the speed of light. These particles also carry the solar magnetic field.
Eventually, this wind is thought to hit the interstellar medium – a completely different flow of particles expelled from the deadly explosions of massive stars. The extremely energetic ions created in these bursts are known as galactic cosmic rays and they are mostly blocked from coming into the solar system by the solar wind. The galaxy also has its own magnetic field, which is thought to be at a significant angle to the sun’s field.
Researchers know that Voyager 1 entered the edge of the solar wind in 2003, when the spacecraft’s instruments indicated that particles around it were moving subsonically, having slowed down after traveling far from the sun. Then, about a year ago, everything got really quiet around the probe. Voyager 1’s instruments indicated at the solar wind suddenly dropped by a factor of 1,000, to the point where it was virtually undetectable. This transition happened extremely fast, taking roughly a few days.
At the same time, the measurements of galactic cosmic rays increased significantly, which would be “just as we expected if we were outside the solar wind,” said physicist Ed Stone of Caltech, Voyager’s project scientist and lead author of one of the Science papers. It looked almost as if Voyager 1 had left the sun’s influence.
So what’s the problem? Well, if the solar wind was completely gone, galactic cosmic rays should be streaming in from all directions. Instead, Voyager found them coming preferentially from one direction. Furthermore, even though the solar particles had dropped off, the probe hasn’t measured any real change in the magnetic fields around it. That’s hard to explain because the galaxy’s magnetic field is thought to be inclined 60 degrees from the sun’s field.
No one is entirely sure what’s going on.
“It’s a huge surprise,” said astronomer Merav Opher of Boston University, who was not involved in the work. While the new observations are fascinating, they are likely something that theorists will debate about for some time, she added.
“In some sense we have touched the intergalactic medium,” Opher said, “but we’re still inside the sun’s house.”
Extending this analogy, it’s almost as if Voyager thought it was going outside but instead found itself standing in the foyer of the sun’s home with an open door that allows wind to blow in from the galaxy. Not only were scientists not expecting this foyer to exist, they have no idea how long the probe will stay inside of it. Stone speculated that the probe could travel some months or years before it reaches interstellar space.
“But it could happen any day,” he added. “We don’t have a model to tell us that.” Even then, Stone said, Voyager would not have really left the solar system but merely the region where the solar wind dominates.
For his part, Krimigis didn’t even want to speculate on what Voyager might encounter next because theorists’ models have so far not worked extremely well.
“I’m convinced that nature is far more imaginative than we are,” he said.... "
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Wouldn't it make sense that there be a drop in velocity once the solar winds aren't exerting in combined effect with the once outgoing ions of the outer field? Why is this unexpected?
The numbering system of comments is strange?
Voyager is just awesome!