NASA announced Monday that after 35 years of exploration, its Voyager 1 spacecraft has entered a new, unanticipated region of space near the edge of the solar system–a “magnetic highway” where charged particles take the “exit ramp” to interstellar space.
The region connects the sun’s magnetic field lines to interstellar magnetic field lines, allowing “lower-energy charged particles that originate from inside our heliosphere… to zoom out, and higher-energy particles from outside to stream in,” according to a written statement issued by NASA partner Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab.
The heliosphere is the “immense magnetic bubble containing our solar system, solar wind, and the entire solar magnetic field,” according to NASA.
Scientists say they believe this is the final region Voyager 1 has to cross before reaching interstellar space.
Launched in 1977 to explore the outer solar system, Voyager 1 and and its twin, Voyager 2, are the longest-serving spacecraft. Voyager 1 is currently 122 AU from Earth, and Voyager 2 is about 100 AU away. One AU, or astronomical unit, is equivalent to the distance from Earth to the sun.
source: The Huffington Post