Forty-four years after it took off from Earth, Voyager 1 was detecting interstellar space “wailing” for the first time.
Voyager 1 was launched in 1977, out of the scope of solar system – Known as the Heliosphere – In 2012, the heliosphere is a space bubble influenced by the solar wind, a stream of electrically charged particles emanating from the sun. Since emerging from the bubble, Voyager 1 has periodically sent back measurements of interstellar medium. From time to time, the Sun sends out an energy called corona-mass ejection that disrupts this medium, shaking the plasma or ionized gas of the interstellar space. These vibrations are very useful as they allow astronomers to measure the density of the plasma.The frequency of the waves through the plasma can show how close the ionized gas molecules are.
Although researchers now realize that Voyager 1is sending a finer signal back, the constant “hum” of the interstellar plasma. This low level of vibration will fade. But persist much longer than the oscillations that occur after the corona mass is removed. According to the new study, published in the journal May 10. Natural astronomyThe hum for at least three years. That’s good news for a better understanding of interstellar plasma.
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“Right now, we don’t have to wait for an accident to perform density determination,” said study head Stella Ocker, a PhD student in astronomy at Cornell University. “Now we can measure density almost continuously.”
Voyager 1 is now almost 153 AU from the Sun. The astronomical unit is the distance between the Sun and the Earth, meaning that the spacecraft with its antenna is now 153 times the distance from the Sun. The spacecraft is one of a pair designed to fly by Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. It takes advantage of the rare planetary alignment, which allows Voyager 1 and 2 to use each planet’s gravity to propel itself towards NASA’s next planet. Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Voyager 1 and 2 continue to transmit signals from interstellar space. (Voyager 2 passed through the heliosphere in 2018) Ocker and her colleagues gathered data from five years ago Voyager 1’s submission to find the wail of interstellar space. They were amazed to find that the vibrations occurred in a narrow set of frequencies, unlike those from the corona mass events, which tend to appear more broadly, Ocker told Live Science.
Researchers do not yet know exactly what causes low plasma tremors. But may be related to The “jitters” of the electrons in the medium are due to basic thermal properties, Ocker said.
Having a method for measuring plasma densities along Voyager 1’s path is helpful as researchers want to learn more about the distribution of ionized gas outside the solar system. The heliosphere interacts with this interstellar environment, Ocker said, and how changing the structure of the plasma can reveal details about how interstellar mediums form the heliosphere and vice versa.
“We wanted to know more about how the interstellar medium and the solar wind interact to create heliosphere bubbles around the Earth,” Ocker said. Continuing to be able to tell us more about how the plasma behaves outside the bubble and how the bubble has changed over time.
Originally published in Live Science.