Sun sends more 'tsunami waves' to Voyager 1

Sun sends more 'tsunami waves' to Voyager 1

NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft has experienced a new "tsunami wave" from the sun as it sails through interstellar space. Such waves are what led scientists to the conclusion, in the fall of 2013, that Voyager had indeed left our sun's bubble, entering a new frontier.

"Normally, interstellar space is like a quiet lake," said Ed Stone of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California, the mission's project scientist since 1972. "But when our sun has a burst, it sends a shock wave outward that reaches Voyager about a year later. The wave causes the plasma surrounding the spacecraft to sing."

Data from this newest tsunami wave generated by our sun confirm that Voyager is in interstellar space - a region between the stars filled with a thin soup of charged particles, also known as plasma. The mission has not left the solar system - it has yet to reach a final halo of comets surrounding our sun - but it broke through the wind-blown bubble, or heliosphere, encasing our sun.

Voyager is the farthest human-made probe from Earth, and the first to enter the vast sea between stars.

"All is not quiet around Voyager," said Don Gurnett of the University of Iowa, Iowa City, the principal investigator of the plasma wave instrument on Voyager, which collected the definitive evidence that Voyager 1 had left the sun's heliosphere. "We're excited to analyze these new data. So far, we can say that it confirms we are in interstellar space."

Our sun goes through periods of increased activity, where it explosively ejects material from its surface, flinging it outward. These events, called coronal mass ejections, generate shock, or pressure, waves. Three such waves have reached Voyager 1 since it entered interstellar space in 2012. The first was too small to be noticed when it occurred and was only discovered later, but the second was clearly registered by the spacecraft's cosmic ray instrument in March of 2013.

Cosmic rays are energetic charged particles that come from nearby stars in the Milky Way galaxy. The sun's shock waves push these particles around like buoys in a tsunami. Data from the cosmic ray instrument tell researchers that a shock wave from the sun has hit.

Meanwhile, another instrument on Voyager registers the shock waves, too. The plasma wave instrument can detect oscillations of the plasma electrons.

"The tsunami wave rings the plasma like a bell," said Stone. "While the plasma wave instrument lets us measure the frequency of this ringing, the cosmic ray instrument reveals what struck the bell -- the shock wave from the sun."

This ringing of the plasma bell is what led to the key evidence showing Voyager had entered interstellar space. Because denser plasma oscillates faster, the team was able to figure out the density of the plasma. In 2013, thanks to the second tsunami wave, the team acquired evidence that Voyager had been flying for more than a year through plasma that was 40 times denser than measured before -- a telltale indicator of interstellar space.

Why is it denser out there? The sun's winds blow a bubble around it, pushing out against denser matter from other stars.

Now, the team has new readings from a third wave from the sun, first registered in March of this year. These data show that the density of the plasma is similar to what was measured previously, confirming the spacecraft is in interstellar space. Thanks to our sun's rumblings, Voyager has the opportunity to listen to the singing of interstellar space -- an otherwise silent place.

Voyager 1 and its twin, Voyager 2, were launched 16 days apart in 1977. Both spacecraft flew by Jupiter and Saturn. Voyager 2 also flew by Uranus and Neptune. Voyager 2, launched before Voyager 1, is the longest continuously operated spacecraft and is expected to enter interstellar space in a few years.

Voyager captures sounds of interstellar space

NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft captured these sounds of interstellar space. Voyager 1's plasma wave instrument detected the vibrations of dense interstellar plasma, or ionized gas, from October to November 2012 and April to May 2013.

The graphic shows the frequency of the waves, which indicate the density of the plasma. Colors indicate the intensity of the waves, or how "loud" they are. Red indicates the loudest waves and blue indicates the weakest.

The soundtrack reproduces the amplitude and frequency of the plasma waves as "heard" by Voyager 1. The waves detected by the instrument antennas can be simply amplified and played through a speaker. These frequencies are within the range heard by human ears.

Scientists noticed that each occurrence involved a rising tone. The dashed line indicates that the rising tones follow the same slope. This means a continuously increasing density.

When scientists extrapolated this line even further back in time (not shown), they deduced that Voyager 1 first encountered interstellar plasma in August 2012.

Source: NASA / JPL-Caltech

Featured image: This artist's concept shows the Voyager 1 spacecraft entering the space between stars. Interstellar space is dominated by plasma, ionized gas (illustrated here as brownish haze), that was thrown off by giant stars millions of years ago. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech


REMOVE ADS AND SUPPORT OUR WORK

Producing content you read on this website takes a lot of time, effort, and hard work. If you value what we do here, please consider becoming a supporter.

OPEN AD-FREE ACCOUNT


Tags: voyager 1

Comments

g srinivasan 6 years ago

It gives great pleasure to provide the correct solution from an axiomatic theory Sankhya on web www kapillavastu dot com. The electromagnetic wave slows down by an axiomatic factor of 8.764 e minus 10 meters per second of travel called the Pioneer effect and forgotten. I exactly 36.15 years the wave travels ONE meter short of the actual it should have covered or is delayed or slower At this distance the Radius of the Sun as the " rigid rod displacement ".traveled 23000 times which is the density of rigid space and is calculated by 151.88 squared axiomatically and is the gravity equivalent of the fine structure constant of 1.137. As a result the electromagnetic wave from that craft now RETURNS in sets of grouped waves as it has lost energy due to the "pioneer effect" sown above Space is as always in a balanced state but we read signals wrongly, Even light from Sun to Earth has a frequency shift of 1.010845 cycles greater per second or is blue shifted fro the true and axiomatic frequency of 296575966 cycles / sec at one meter wave length Please se the derivation in PHO on my website given above for FULL details. Physics needs a paradigm shift to axiomatic numerical logic to learn the light is a wave in space at a density of 3.6 E minus 25 kilogram / cum which keeps the Universe balanced always. Will give full details if needed to any one.

Post a comment

Your name: *

Your email address: *

Comment text: *

The image that appears on your comment is your Gravatar