Monday, December 3, 2012

Voyager 1 Encounters 'Magnetic Highway' at Edge of Solar System

This artist's concept shows plasma flows around NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft as it gets close to entering interstellar space. Image released Dec. 3, 2012. CREDIT: NASA/JPL-Caltech/The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory

NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft has discovered a new layer of the solar system that scientists hadn't known was there, researchers announced today (Dec. 3).

Voyager 1 has entered a new region of the heliosphere that scientists are calling a "magnetic highway," which allows charged particles from inside the heliosphere to flow outward, and particles from the galaxy outside to come in.

"We do believe this may be the very last layer between us and interstellar space," Edward Stone, Voyager project scientist based at the California Institute of Technology, in Pasadena, Calif., said during a teleconference with reporters. "This region was not anticipated, was not predicted."

Therefore, he said, it's hard to predict how soon Voyager will leave the solar system behind altogether.

"We don’t know exactly how long it will take," Stone said. "It may take two months, it may take two years."

Read More:

Find out how NASA's historic Voyager interplanetary probes worked in this infographic.
Source All about our solar system, outer space and exploration