Voyager 2 arrives at interstellar space, finds increased plasma density

Katie Ramirez
November 6, 2019

The heliosphere, as it is known, is a protective bubble around the solar system formed by the solar wind, a stream of extremely hot and fast electrons and protons - known as plasma - that comes roaring out of the sun's nuclear heart and sprays out into space.

Voyager 2's exit out of the bubble was not without surprises.

"It's kind of like looking at an elephant with a microscope", Bill Kurth, also from the University of Iowa, said in the statement.

The operating instruments include a magnetic field sensor, two instruments to detect energetic particles in different energy ranges, and two instruments for studying plasma. Shockwaves released by the sun can pass right through the heliopause into interstellar medium and cause disturbances, much like supernovae form shockwaves that travel through the space between stars. When Voyager 2, the longest-running space mission, crossed that frontier more than 40 years after its launch it sent a faint signal from the other side that scientists have now decoded.

In addition, Voyager 2 was slowed by its Neptune flyby in 1989, so Voyager 1 surged ahead as planned. Now, in a sequence of 5 papers, researchers have tried to examine or contrast the information from the two Voyagers and consider to make perception of the contradictions, knowing that we've bought practically nothing created that is heading to get new data from that length any time before long.

Its companion, V1, the only other human-made spacecraft to have ventured as far, passed over into interstellar space six years earlier in 2012 at a distance of 121.6 au (18.3 × 109 km).

"We were outside", said Dr Stone, "but we were seeing particles from the inside".

Our bubble protects the solar system from this "interstellar wind", and from cosmic radiation which could wreak havoc on our DNA.

Would Kristen Stewart Have Married Robert Pattinson? Here's What She Said
Bad romance: Stewart revealed to Howard Stern on Tuesday morning that she would have married her then-boyfriend Robert Pattinson . Kristen made it clear that she felt stifled in the past when speaking to the media about her relationship.

It is only the second probe to have sailed beyond the heliosphere - the expansive region made of plasma and magnetic fields generated by the Sun. Scientists can use the new numbers from Voyager 2 to more accurately model the shape and thickness of the heliosphere's hydrogen wall, where the solar winds run out of momentum and are pushed back by the interstellar medium. Voyager one hit the boundary at about 122 astronomical units from the Sunlight (an AU is the common distance from the Earth to the Sun) Voyager 2 hit it at 119 AU. After making a careful analysis of the data, scientists have confirmed it: like Voyager 1 before it, the little space probe is now out beyond the heliopause, and heading deeper into the vast unknown of interstellar space. The two probes exited the heliosphere at different locations and also at different times in the constantly repeating, approximately 11-year solar cycle, over the course of which the Sun goes through a period of high and low activity.

Dr Edward Stone, a professor of physics at the California Institute of Technology and former director of the Nasa Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said: "We are trying to understand the nature of the boundary where these two winds collide". The density of the solar wind is expected to thin out with distance from the Sun.

A bubble-like circle surrounds the solar system with winds blowing out of the Sun.

The researchers added that it is very similar to the plasma density jump experienced by Voyager 1 when it crossed the interstellar space.

This occurs when the magnetic fields from two different objects briefly become connected through a tube-like magnetic structure. 2019. Cosmic ray measurements from Voyager 2 as it crossed into interstellar space.

This has been concluded based on plasma density readings from the plasma wave apparatus mounted on the vehicle.

During that transition, Voyager 1 saw a gradual increase of high-energy cosmic rays, but these were punctuated by two spikes where high-energy cosmic rays suddenly rose. "They are of their grasp orbits around the galaxy for 5 billion years or longer, and the probability of them working into something else is almost zero".

Other reports by

Discuss This Article

FOLLOW OUR NEWSPAPER