Skip to main content

Voyager 1 Reaches "Cosmic Purgatory"

As the farthest man-made object from Earth, Voyager 1 is no stranger to the unknown. Now it has reached an area with almost no solar wind as it makes its departure from our solar system's boundary.


Voyager 1 has reached a new zone on the edge of our solar system called the stagnation region. Image courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech


Voyager 1 has reached what is now being called the stagnation zone. An instrument aboard the spacecraft has indicated that something is pushing back on this region from outside the solar system. Consequently, scientists hope that Voyager 1 will send back the first data from interstellar space in the coming months.

Until about a year ago, instruments on the spacecraft detected charged particles from our solar system at a nearly constant rate. Recently, however, the number of detected particles has dropped significantly. At the same time, Voyager has detected 100 times more particles from outside elsewhere in the galaxy, suggesting that the spacecraft has finally reached the edge of our solar system.

Rob Decker, a physicist based at Johns Hopkins University who works on the Low-energy Charged Particle instrument aboard Voyager, said in a statement: "We've found that the wind speeds are low in this region and gust erratically. For the first time, the wind even blows back at us. We are evidently traveling in completely new territory."

For more information on Voyager's journey out of our solar system, take a look at this press release from NASA.

Comments

Popular Posts

How 4,000 Physicists Gave a Vegas Casino its Worst Week Ever

What happens when several thousand distinguished physicists, researchers, and students descend on the nation’s gambling capital for a conference? The answer is "a bad week for the casino"—but you'd never guess why.

Ask a Physicist: Phone Flash Sharpie Shock!

Lexie and Xavier, from Orlando, FL want to know:
"What's going on in this video? Our science teacher claims that the pain comes from a small electrical shock, but we believe that this is due to the absorption of light. Please help us resolve this dispute!"

The Science of Ice Cream: Part One

Even though it's been a warm couple of months already, it's officially summer. A delicious, science-filled way to beat the heat? Making homemade ice cream.

(We've since updated this article to include the science behind vegan ice cream. To learn more about ice cream science, check out The Science of Ice Cream, Redux)

Over at Physics@Home there's an easy recipe for homemade ice cream. But what kind of milk should you use to make ice cream? And do you really need to chill the ice cream base before making it? Why do ice cream recipes always call for salt on ice?