Voyager 2 just exited our solar system

Pablo Tucker
November 6, 2019

Voyager 2, thus, becomes the second human-made object to journey out of our sun's influence, following Voyager 1's solar exit in 2012. This is the outer region of the heliosphere and the threshold where the solar wind gathers against the approaching wind in interstellar space. These papers detail the incredible discoveries Voyager 2 has made, and what scientists have observed.

"It's kind of like looking at an elephant with a microscope", Kurth said. Researchers shared their discoveries just because on Monday, by means of five papers distributed in the diary Nature Astronomy.

With Voyager 2, the plasma instrument was undamaged.

The twin spacecraft will now continue through the space between the stars, with scientists hopeful of making more measurements of interstellar space.

Voyager 1 and Voyager 2's location. "Here we find a very hot plasma mass coming outward from the sun that encounters the cold plasma in the interstellar medium". The changes confirmed that the spacecraft entered a new region of space. "The Voyager probes are showing us how our Sun interacts with the stuff that fills most of the space between stars in the Milky Way galaxy", said Ed Stone, lead author on one of the papers and a project scientist for the Voyager mission. 'We show with Voyager 2 - and previously with Voyager 1- that there's a distinct boundary out there.


Thanks to the two Voyager spacecraft, we now know that plasma in interstellar space is denser and cooler than in our heliosphere. To understand what's happening at and near this boundary, they study the information the Voyager probes collected about magnetic fields and charged particles on either side of the heliopause. (Voyager 1's plasma-measuring instrument stopped working in 1980.) All this data can offer scientists insight into the nature of the interstellar medium.

But Voyager 2 did experience a whole raft of other magnetic experiences from discovering a "magnetic barrier" in the heliosheath adjacent to the heliopause as well as a stronger interstellar magnetic field directly beyond it.

Both Voyager spacecraft crossed the heliopause near the nose region (that is, in the approximate direction of interstellar inflow), so there are no direct observations of the downwind tail region. Voyager 1, is now 22 billion kilometers away from the Sun, Voyager 2 - 18.2 billion kilometers. They had different trajectories through space.

These distinctions emphasize the far more common explanation of why the transition activities have been distinctive: the boundary signifies an intersection between two dynamic fluids, with all the intricate interactions that that indicates.

The bubble's edge lies about three times the distance of the sun to Pluto.


That gives valuable clues to the structure of the heliosphere-the bubble, shaped much like a wind sock, created by the sun's wind as it extends to the boundary of the solar system.

The shape depends, in a complex way, on the relative strengths of the magnetic fields inside and outside of the heliosphere, and the latest measurements are suggestive of a more spherical form.

Before Voyager 1 reached the edge of the heliosphere in 2012, scientists didn't know exactly how far this boundary was from the Sun. The signal from Voyager 2, from beyond the heliosphere, is still beaming back, takes more than 16 hours to touch Earth and is picked up by Nasa's largest antenna, a 70-meter dish.

The Voyager probes launched in 1978, and both flew by Jupiter and Saturn.

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 in their own orbits around the galaxy for five billion years or longer, and the probability of them running into anything is nearly zero". The team hopes the Voyagers will reach the distant point where space is undisturbed by the heliosphere before they run out of fuel.


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