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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

Voyager Still Surprises

Voyager has passed into "strange space"

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Friday, June 28, 2013/Categories: space science, adventure

The Voyager space probe has passed into a strange and unpredicted region of space.

Originally, it had been assumed that Voyager’s transition into the zone beyond the Sun's influence, and where the effects of interstellar space became more pronounced, would be unexciting. New data from the venerable probe has shown it is far more complicated and all the models predicted and will now need to be changed. 

The sun produces a constant stream of charged particles known as the solar wind. Traveling outwards at nearly 10% the speed of light, the "wind" also carries the Sun's magnetic field. The Earth is protected from its force by our own magnetic field. It had been predicted that when the solar wind hit interstellar space it would encounter a flow of galactic cosmic rays that had been  blocked from entering the solar system. The new Voyager data shows this isn't the case and no one exactly knows what is happening.

Stamatios Krimigis, the lead author on a Science paper commented on the new Voyager data:

“The models that have been thought to predict what should happen are all incorrect and we essentially have absolutely no reliable roadmap of what to expect at this point.”


Original Solar System-Interstellar Space Model (credit: JPL)

Science teams at JPL, NASA, and elsewhere involved in this astrophysics research will be heading back to their computers and revising the models with the new Voyager data.

However, Dr. Krimigis noted: “I’m convinced that nature is far more imaginative than we are.”

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