Voyager 1 And 2 Probes Amaze Us Again With Another Discovery
We thought that once we passed the Hercules Columns of the heliosphere the probes would stop talking to us. Not because of the energy exhaustion, but because from then on we imagined a desert – the interstellar space! – almost completely empty of matter and therefore also of physical phenomena to detect and to tell. Far from the protective embrace of the Sun, the boundary of our solar system seems in fact to be a cold, empty and dark place…. a vast expanse of frightening nothingness.
But we were wrong. The Voyager probes have left the Solar System behind, but the great void they had in front of them is instead proving to be an inexhaustible source of new phenomena.
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After the one on the unexpected density of the interstellar medium, given to us by Voyager 2 a few months ago, here is now the joint discovery of Voyager 1 and Voyager 2, which let us know that in those parts have suddenly detected a real bombardment of electrons.
Launched back in 1977, the twin probes Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 have done an extraordinary job in all these years, increasing our knowledge about the Solar System at least tenfold, and even now they continue to provide significant scientific data.
After visiting all the outer planets, from Jupiter to Neptune, the two aging spacecrafts are in fact studying the deepest recesses of the Solar System.
For quite some time they have been going beyond the heliopause, the “no man’s land” between the heliosphere – the bubble of hot solar plasma that encloses our entire planetary system – and the region that surrounds it, dominated by the interstellar medium. A region that Voyager 1 has already reached in 2012, and Voyager 2, which followed a different and longer path, in 2018.
Despite their incredible distance of 23 and 19 billion kilometers respectively, communication with the two spacecraft is maintained by the antennas of the Deep Space Network, and sporadically reaches us an imperceptible signal whose power does not even reach a billionth of a billionth of a watt and contains extraordinary data that allow us for the first time to understand the true nature of what exists outside the heliosphere.
But the most important thing, the real news is another: from that same data we learned that 13 days before Voyager 1 recorded the arrival of the shock wave and 30 days before Voyager 2 did the same, the two probes had detected the unexpected arrival of a huge flow of electrons!
In practice, it was as if the shockwave of plasma, once arrived in contact with the interstellar wind that came from the opposite direction, had suddenly accelerated its electrons to push them towards the two probes at speeds close to those of light.
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