Feeds

Voyager 1 arrives on ‘magnetic highway for charged particles’

Next exit: interstellar space

The essential guide to IT transformation

Venerable spacecraft Voyager 1 has arrived in the most distant part of space that can be considered part of the solar system.

NASA has labelled this region of space “a magnetic highway for charged particles” because it contains particles radiating out from the sun along with interstellar particles zipping into our neighbourhood. The particles in this region of space all travel in the same direction, a marked change from space closer to the sun where charged particles “bounced around in all directions, as if trapped on local roads inside the heliosphere.”

The findings in NASA’s announcement seem to have been compiled from several presentations at yesterday’s meeting of the American Geophysical Union (search on ‘Voyager’ from the link above to find the presentations).

This new region of space seems not to be entirely consistent, as NASA has stated “Voyager data from two onboard instruments that measure charged particles showed the spacecraft first entered this magnetic highway region on July 28, 2012.”

But the region then “ebbed away and flowed toward Voyager 1 several times,” with each re-entry to the region finding a stronger magnetic field although “the direction of the magnetic field lines did not change.”

Voyager 1 re-entered the region on August 25th, “and the environment has been stable since.”

Charged particle data from Voyager 1

The top graph (magenta) shows the prevalence of lower-energy charged particles that originate inside the heliosphere, which is the bubble of charged particles surrounding our sun. The bottom graph (blue) shows the prevalence of cosmic rays, which are higher-energycharged particles that originate from interstellar space. These data were obtained by Voyager 1's cosmic ray instrument.
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/GSFC

All of which sounds like roadworks on the magnetic highway, an event that might not take Voyager's overseers entirely by surprise, as they have said the presence of the magnetic highway was in no way expected. It is thought that when magnetic fields near the spacecraft change into another pattern it will signify its departure from our solar system.

That may happen today, in several months, or some time yesterday, as it takes 17 hours for a signal from Voyager 1 to reach Earth. ®

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup

More from The Register

next story
Boffins attempt to prove the UNIVERSE IS JUST A HOLOGRAM
Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?
China building SUPERSONIC SUBMARINE that travels in a BUBBLE
Shanghai to San Fran in two hours would be a trick, though
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
LOHAN Kickstarter push breaks TWELVE THOUSAND POUNDS
That's right, folks, you've stumped up OVER 9000 beer tokens - and counting
SpaceX prototype rocket EXPLODES over Texas. 'Tricky' biz, says Elon Musk
No injuries or near injuries. Flight stayed in designated area
Galileo, Galileo! Galileo, Galileo! Galileo fit to go. Magnifico
I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me. But at least I can find my way with ESA GPS by 2017
Astronomers scramble for obs on new comet
Amateur gets fifth confirmed discovery
prev story

Whitepapers

Best practices for enterprise data
Discussing how technology providers have innovated in order to solve new challenges, creating a new framework for enterprise data.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?