Voyager 1 reached a surprisingly quiet area on the edge of interstellar space


20/06/2011

The most distant object ever created by man, is at a distance of 17.5 billion kilometers from Earth - at the boundary of interstellar space.

Voyager 1 approached the border Heliospheric mantle, where the particles emitted by the sun collide with the galactic gas. Contrary to the expectations of scientists, the border was a safe haven, where the solar wind mixes with particles from outside the solar system.

"We’re still in that transition region, where the influence of the sun is quite noticeable," - said Stamatios Krimidzhis, a physicist at Johns Hopkins University in Laurel, Maryland. "It’s definitely not what we expected."

Scientists from NASA cut off six of the ten instruments on board Voyager 1. He went so far as to transfer the data back to Earth takes 16 hours. But the work of Voyager does not stop for a second. He leaves the heliosphere, the bubble that is filled with the solar wind. At the end of 2004, Voyager 1 crossed the shock wave, where there is a sharp slowdown in the solar wind. And this year, the researchers had expected that he will cross another border at which the solar wind abruptly change direction, that will mean going out into interstellar space.

But instead, in the words of Krimidzhisa, measuring low-energy particles have shown that the solar wind almost stopped and began to mix with the interstellar gas. Existing theories failed to predict this development. Krimidzhis allows for the possibility that this is interstellar space. "We could have come out in it without even knowing about it, because there is no model that would describe what we are seeing," - he said.

Data on the remote interstellar gases may seem unimportant for Humanity, which is closer to the Sun. But, according to Ed Stone of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, this information is very important. At this point, the sun passes through the region, which is full of the remains of a nearby supernova. Fluxes of particles and magnetic fields that create our star, protect us from the interstellar radiation occurring during explosions. "Bubble size is important."

In the future, Voyager will provide more information on this subject. Plutonium generator should last at least until the 2020s, and "we will continue to receive information," - said Krimidzhis. Even when its signal fades out, the journey does not stop ... After about 40,000 years it will reach the constellation Camelopardalis.

Original: Nature


Another satellite will fall to Earth
NASA announced the extension of the research mission of Kepler for four more years
Mysterious phenomena seen in the red supergiant
Scientists have caught a magnetic super-tornado, warming up the solar corona
Astronomers made the discovery in the Andromeda Galaxy