NASA's Voyager 1 hits a 'magnetic highway' out of the solar system
Scientists at NASA say the unmanned Voyager 1 spacecraft has reached the edges of the solar system. They estimate in a few months to a year Voyager 1 will become the first manmade object to leave the solar system and enter interstellar space.
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That phase of the journey lasted for 5.5 years. Then the solar wind stopped moving and the magnetic field strengthened.Skip to next paragraph
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Based on an instrument that measures charged particles, Voyager entered the magnetic highway on July 28, 2012. The region was in flux for about a month and stabilized on Aug. 25.
Each time Voyager re-entered the highway, the magnetic field strengthened, but its direction remained unchanged. Scientists believe the direction of the magnetic field lines will shift when the probe finally enters interstellar space.
Other clues that Voyager has reached interstellar space could be the detection of low-energy cosmic rays and a dramatic tapering of the number of solar particles, Stone said.
Voyager 2, traveling on a different path out of the solar system, has experienced similar, though more gradual changes in its environment than Voyager 1. Scientists do not believe Voyager 2, which is about 9 billion miles (14.5 billion km) from Earth, has reached the magnetic highway.
Editing by Lisa Shumaker