Another manmade spacecraft has "slipped the surly bonds" of the solar system and entered the uncharted abyss of interstellar space. Voyager 2 detected winds - flows of charged gas particles that come from the sun - leaking from the solar system. The researchers made the announcement after noting a definitive jump in plasma density detected by a plasma wave instrument on Voyager 2.
This makes Voyager 2 the second human-made object to journey out of the Sun's influence, following the USA space agency's Voyager 1's solar exit in 2012. The two tests are physically indistinguishable, yet they took various ways through the close planetary system.
When Voyager 1 reached the edge of our solar system, known as the heliopause, it no longer had a functional plasma spectrometer.
Hopefully, further analysis of Voyager 2 data would reveal more about this. But "Voyager-1" has confirmed that there is a boundary where the temperature drops sharply, and the density of charged particles increases, forming a plasma. This is despite the fact that NASA scientists were not sure that he will be able to "survive" and overcome that boundary. So, we missed the expected transition from warm solar plasma to the denser cold plasma of the ISM. In the end, estimations of neighborhood electrons and attractive field movements affirmed it was in interstellar space.
Voyager 2 has just sent back data proving that it has also crossed the heliopause, and it had a fully functional plasma spectrometer. The progress occurred about a year back in November 2018, and the changeover was generally in-accordance with what researchers anticipated dependent on Voyager 1's circuitous readings. Voyager 2 has also continued to see low-energy particles from the sun in the ISM, but Voyager 1 didn't.
Voyager 2 left Earth's orbit in 1977 a month before its twin Voyager 1, but took seven years longer to reach the heliosphere's outer limit some 18 billion kilometres (more than 11 billion miles) away. However, their exit points were about 150 AU apart. Bill Karth of the University of Iowa stated that Voyager-1 and Voyager-2 entered ISM at approximately equal distances from the Sun through different paths.
"This is a very exciting time for us", California Institute of Technology physicist Edward Stone, project manager of the Voyager program, told reporters. The only functional probe that has any hope of reaching the heliopause is New Horizons, which is now flying through the Kuiper Belt.
"We had no good quantitative idea of how big this bubble is", he commented.
Maya Grinberg is a careers Reporter for Tech News vision make it. Prior to joining Tech News Vision, she worked as a fiction stories and a freelancer for magazine, where she eventually worked her way up to careers editor.