Voyager 1 reaches interstellar space

Data on plasma, densest and slowest moving particles in space, used to back claim

Published: Saturday 14 September 2013

NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft has finally reached interstellar space, the space between stars. NASA had been reticent so far in declaring this transition as the data and analysis needed to make this claim was not available. The team needed more data on plasma, the densest and slowest moving of charged particles in space. This plasma is a marker to establish whether Voyager 1 is inside the heliosphere, which is inflated by plasma that streams outward from our sun, or in interstellar space and surrounded by material ejected by the explosion of nearby giant stars millions of years ago. The data showed that the Voyager finally moved into the interstellar space on August 25, says NASA. The data has been analysed in a paper published in the journal Science.

Artist's concept depicts NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft entering interstellar space. Interstellar space is dominated by the plasma. The interstellar plasma is shown with an orange glow similar to the colour seen in visible-light images from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope that show stars in the Orion nebula travelling through interstellar space


This artist's concept puts solar system distances in perspective. The scale bar is in astronomical units, with each set distance beyond 1 AU, representing 10 times the previous distance. One AU is the distance from the sun to the Earth, which is about 93 million miles or 150 million kilometres


The two Voyager spacecraft continue to return science data from instruments


The signal of NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft—the most distant human-made object –has been spotted from Earth by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory's 8,000-kilometre-wide Very Long Baseline Array, which links radio telescopes from Hawaii to St. Croix. These radio telescopes cannot see Voyager 1 in visible light, but rather "see" the spacecraft signal in radio light


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