NASA’s Voyager 1 Detects ‘Faint, Persistent’ Plasma ‘Hum’ in the Vast Emptiness of Space

Credit: Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain

Voyager 1—one of two sibling NASA spacecraft launched 44 years ago and now the most distant human-made object in space—still works and zooms toward infinity.

The craft has long since zipped past the edge of the solar system through the heliopause—the solar system’s border with interstellar —into the interstellar medium. Now, its instruments have detected the constant drone of interstellar gas (), according to Cornell University-led research published in Nature Astronomy.

Examining data slowly sent back from more than 14 billion miles away, Stella Koch Ocker, a Cornell doctoral student in astronomy, has uncovered the emission. “It’s very faint and monotone, because it is in a narrow frequency bandwidth,” Ocker said. “We’re detecting the faint, persistent hum of interstellar gas.”

This work allows scientists to understand how the interstellar medium interacts with the , Ocker said, and how the protective bubble of the ‘s heliosphere is shaped and modified by the interstellar environment.

Launched in September 1977, the Voyager 1 spacecraft flew by Jupiter in 1979 and then Saturn in late 1980. Travelling at about 38,000 mph, Voyager 1 crossed the heliopause in August 2012.

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SOURCE:, Cornell University

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