NASA's Voyagers are the first human-made spacecraft to leave the solar system
Voyager 1 has recently unveiled a region of our solar system previously unknown to scientists, NASA representatives informed in a statement.The event makes Voyager 1, along with its sibling, Voyager 2, the first human-launched spacecraft to exceed the limits of our solar system passing through a border region, defined by an interchange of particles between the heliosphere and the outside galaxy.
“We do believe this may be the very last layer between us and interstellar space,” declared Voyager researcher Edward Stone, from the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.
“This region was not anticipated, was not predicted.”
Although it is expected that Voyager 1 might leave the solar system, the timing of the event has not been estimated yet, Space reports.
“We don’t know exactly how long it will take. It may take two months, it may take two years,” Stone declared.
The magnetic field's east-west orientation detected by researchers repels the supposition that the spacecraft might have already left the solar system. Previous studies have shown that outside the solar system the magnetic field is more likely to have a north-south orientation.
The realm found by Voyagers and called by scientists “the magnetic highway” is located in the foremost part of the solar system. The area is defined by a high amount of charged particles spread around by the Sun, a phenomenon caused by the extension of the heliosphere.
NASA's Voyagers are the agency's longest-traveling spaceships and their journey is intended to be continuing even after the solar system has been left behind. However, scientists say that it would take the spacecraft over 40,000 years to reach another star.
Voyagers will keep traveling as long as their power allows it.
“We will have enough power for all the instruments until 2020; at that point we will have to turn off our first instrument,” said Stone.