Voyager 1 encounters mystery at the edge of our solar system

Nov 1, 2012
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Voyager 1 encounters mystery at the edge of our solar system

The Voyager 1 probe has been soaring through the solar system for 35 years. Voyager 1 is currently the most distant man-made object from the Earth in history. Scientists believe that the probe recently left the suns protective sphere of influence. The sphere of influence I'm talking about is the Sun's magnetic bubble called the heliosphere.

Scientists analyzing data being sent back from Voyager 1 have discovered a mystery at the edge of the solar system's magnetic boundary with interstellar space. The probe is so far from Earth that it takes over 17 hours for signal to travel from Voyager 1 back to the Earth. Scientists have been anxiously watching key data, including the particle energy count and the magnetic field strength indicator and orientation in an effort to determine precisely when the probe leaves our heliosphere.

Scientists previously believed that when the probe entered an area known as the heliosheath the magnetic field would begin to fluctuate, and the number of high-energy cosmic rays would decrease the magnetic fluctuations. However, scientists looking at the data throughout 2010 found that the opposite actually occurred. When the probe entered the heliosheath, the magnetic field became more chaotic and the number of high-energy particles detected by Voyager 1 actually increased.

This is the mystery that scientists are working to solve right now. The researchers suspect that the magnetic fluctuations in the area surrounding Voyager 1 are somehow energizing charged particles within the heliosheath and therefore, increasing the number of detections by Voyager 1. The scientists are also working now to determine if Voyager 1 has finally left our solar system, and is now cruising through interstellar space.

[via discovery.com]


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