- The mission has been extended three times and they continue to transmit several useful scientific data.
- In 2012, the Voyager 1 became the first man-made object to enter interstellar space by traveling further than anything/anyone in history.
Voyager finds a new type of electron burst
- A detailed analysis of recent data from Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 has revealed the first bursts of cosmic ray electrons in interstellar space.
- The bursts of cosmic rays are detected from the Sun, more than 23 billion kilometers away. These energized particles accelerate beyond the borders of the powerful winds of the Sun.
- Sun’s surface emits solar wind i.e. a stream of charged particles in the form of plasma continuously. This stream generates a magnetic field.
- This stream or solar wind travels every planet and object in our Solar System and sprinkles out into the interstellar medium.
- Beyond the magnetic field of the Sun, in the cold of interstellar space, what happens to the solar plasma and cosmic rays is not clear.
- The Voyager probes give us a chance to find out more. Astronomers are proposing a new model to check what happens to shockwaves in interstellar space.
- As detected by Voyager, when an energy wave followed by plasma reaches interstellar space, the shock wave pushes higher-energy cosmic rays to hit the magnetic field generated by the wave, and another shock reflects and pushes them into the higher energy state.
- The plasma then heats up the low-energy electrons that propagate along magnetic fields.
- This upstream region that is being called ‘the cosmic-ray foreshock’ is assumed to occur just behind the magnetic field line of interstellar space.
- As per the conclusion of the study, bursts of high-energy electrons arise from the reflection (and acceleration) of cosmic-ray electrons at the first contact of the shock with the interstellar magnetic field line passing through the spacecraft.
The findings of the study were published in the Astronomical Journal.