Plasma waves detected by Voyager1 in outer space
Voyager 1, having spent over 43 years zooming away from Earth since its 1977 launch, is now a very long way away indeed.
Its distance from the Sun is over 150 times the distance between Earth and the Sun. It takes over 21 hours for transmissions traveling at light speed to arrive at Earth. It officially passed the heliopause - the boundary at which pressure from the solar wind is no longer sufficient to push into the wind from interstellar space - in 2012.
Voyager 1 has left the Solar System - and it's finding that the void of space is not quite so void-like, after all.
In the latest analysis of data from the intrepid probe, from a distance of nearly 23 billion kilometers (over 14 billion miles), astronomers have discovered, from 2017 onwards, a constant hum from plasma waves in the interstellar medium, the diffuse gas that lurks between the stars.
"It's very faint and monotone, because it is in a narrow frequency bandwidth," said astronomer Stella Koch Ocker of Cornell University. "We're detecting the faint, persistent hum of interstellar gas."
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