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Voyager 1 Finds Unexpected Wrinkles At the Edge Of the Solar System

timothy posted about a year ago | from the damn-thetans-are-playing-with-us dept.

Space 164

Voyager 1 has been close to the boundary of the solar system for quite a while; we've mentioned that the edge is near a few times before, including an evidently premature report in 2010 that Voyager had reached a distance so far from the sun that it could no longer detect solar winds and another in 2011 that it had reached an "outer shell" of solar influence. It turns out that the boundaries of the solar system are fuzzier than once anticipated; the L.A. Times is reporting that "Toward the end of July 2012, Voyager 1's instruments reported that solar winds had suddenly dropped by half, while the strength of the magnetic field almost doubled, according to the studies. Those values then switched back and forth five times before they became fixed on Aug. 25. Since then, solar winds have all but disappeared, but the direction of the magnetic field has barely budged." Also at Wired, which notes "That's hard to explain because the galaxy's magnetic field is thought to be inclined 60 degrees from the sun's field. No one is entirely sure what's going on. ... [It's] almost as if Voyager thought it was going outside but instead found itself standing in the foyer of the sun's home with an open door that allows wind to blow in from the galaxy."

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XKCD (5, Funny)

NobleSavage (582615) | about a year ago | (#44146979)

Obligatory XKCD [xkcd.com]

Re: XKCD (5, Interesting)

tysonedwards (969693) | about a year ago | (#44147093)

The only thing that is shocking to me is the belief amidst the cited astrophysicists that once passing the heliosheath that there would be "uniform, high intensity cosmic radiation" as opposed to "non-uniform directional radiation". Our solar system is a very tiny dot versus a ginormous amalgamation of radiation sources at the center of our galaxy. It seems HIGHLY intuitive that the center of our galaxy would be a single, highly directional radiation source that would dwarf the very distant radiation sources.

Re: XKCD (1)

khallow (566160) | about a year ago | (#44147243)

The gas clouds, which we see around us, would have been blown away by a single, highly directional radiation source strong enough to manifest here.

Re: XKCD (1)

tysonedwards (969693) | about a year ago | (#44147303)

Perhaps that is just the fallacy of thinking of atoms and particles interchangeably, all the while ignoring the enormous gravity field in very close proximity.

Re: XKCD (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44147839)

The basics of the interaction between plasma and radiation has been pretty thoroughly studied and tested. Although it is still a mess to apply to more complicated cases, and there is a lot of subtlety to some such work, far beyond ignoring gravity or what is likely meant by "thinking of atoms and particles interchangeably."

Re: XKCD (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44147799)

Our solar system is a very tiny dot versus a ginormous amalgamation of radiation sources at the center of our galaxy.

Actually, by analysis of cyclotron emissions, there are plenty of far more local galactic cosmic ray sources. The problem with something like Sagitarrius A* or something else near the center of the galaxy, is that is very far way for the energy scales being measured. Because cosmic rays are charged particles and there is a background magnetic field in the galaxy, such particles could not make a straight line from the center of the galaxy to here and instead would be trapped and susceptible to interaction with things in between. Even when you get into the TeV range of particles (the ones voyager was looking at was 2 MeV to 600 MeV), the gyroradius is on the order of dozens of AU.

This problem means that except at the highest of energies for extra-galactic cosmic rays, the direction of cosmic rays are scrambled and not pointing back to their source. The distribution of galactic cosmic rays has more to do with the magnetic field structure in the near by neighborhood. Additionally, in this case here, it has a lot to do with the interaction of high energy particles and shock waves in plasma, which is still a big, active area of research. This would determine how much is emitted or blocked by the heliosheath, but would also still depend on the structure of the area which is quite turbulent. An understanding of the interaction between the solar wind, very local sources like other near by stars and previous novas in the area is what this will come down to, and very little to do with the center of the galaxy.

Not intuitive at all (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44147949)

The center of the galaxy being the direction source is about as intuitive of an answer as saying a fire hose at the center of a hurricane is why you see rain coming from one direction when you are hundreds of kilometers away from the center. In other words, it would be the exact opposite of intuitive, considering such particles wouldn't make it here even if the galactic magnetic field were many, many times weaker than we thought.

Re: XKCD (1)

lightknight (213164) | about a year ago | (#44148515)

Hmm. I'm more interested in the "Stranger yet, Voyager 1 detected an increase in galactic cosmic rays — but found that at times they were moving in parallel instead of traveling randomly." comment. Moving in parallel to what, exactly? Voyager?

Still, sounds pretty fricking awesome. Damn shame we can't be out there ourselves.

Re: XKCD (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44148777)

Moving in parallel to what, exactly?

Each other.

Re:XKCD (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44147219)

Re: XKCD (1)

DarrenBaker (322210) | about a year ago | (#44147619)

I watched an episode of Northern Exposure from 1992 that mentioned Voyager I was on the very edge of leaving the solar system. Extrapolate from that, and it's been going on since the damn thing was launched, apparently.

Re:XKCD (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44147863)

It is not a clear, geometric boundary, and there is a lot of structure there, some of which is still being explored. This isn't like saying, "I'm stepping through the door... that only took a few seconds." It is more like, "I'm leaving home" when you have a long driveway and big property in a rural area. You could say you left home when you went out the door, or when you got the car out of the garage, or when you got down the driveway, or maybe when you cross the property line (which may have been surveyed wrong), or when you get down the road that is just an extension of your drive way, etc.,

Re:XKCD (1)

rodrigoandrade (713371) | about a year ago | (#44148773)

On a galactic scale, it's more like once every 5 seconds.

Re:XKCD (3, Funny)

greenfruitsalad (2008354) | about a year ago | (#44149169)

V   GER toying with us

Re:XKCD (4, Interesting)

hcs_$reboot (1536101) | about a year ago | (#44147263)

Funny drawing. But it seems the problem here is the interpretation of the Voyager's data. Not the probes that still do a magnificent job. I've always been fascinated how the Voyagers did/do a great job since 1977. Starting by providing really amazing pictures of our "external planets", following a smart path (that could have been even more awesome [wikipedia.org] if budget wouldn't have been reduced) now they're still able to work and communicate successfully with Earth, from a 120+ AU distance, thanks to a 1977 technology.

Re:XKCD (1)

Nyder (754090) | about a year ago | (#44149389)

Funny drawing. But it seems the problem here is the interpretation of the Voyager's data. Not the probes that still do a magnificent job. I've always been fascinated how the Voyagers did/do a great job since 1977. Starting by providing really amazing pictures of our "external planets", following a smart path (that could have been even more awesome [wikipedia.org] if budget wouldn't have been reduced) now they're still able to work and communicate successfully with Earth, from a 120+ AU distance, thanks to a 1977 technology.

I'm going to point out that made things to last in the 1970's. We don't do that anymore.

Re:XKCD (2)

iggymanz (596061) | about a year ago | (#44148583)

it is believed the Oort cloud goes out to almost a light-year, so by that definition of "extent of solar system" Voyager won't be leaving in our lifetimes, not for thousands of years.

Re:XKCD (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | about a year ago | (#44148871)

I did a search of the thread for VGER and got no hits.

Where did all the nerds on this site go?

It makes perfect sense. (5, Funny)

neoshroom (324937) | about a year ago | (#44146983)

Unexpected? You didn't think something 4.5 billion years old would have a few wrinkles?

Re:It makes perfect sense. (4, Funny)

LordLucless (582312) | about a year ago | (#44147051)

Not when it's continually expanding - that's like an always-on facelift.

Re:It makes perfect sense. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44147183)

I wasn't exactly thinking of a FACElift. Expand THIS, sonny!

Re:It makes perfect sense. (3, Funny)

Waccoon (1186667) | about a year ago | (#44149141)

Okay, stretchmarks?

Re:It makes perfect sense. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44147057)

Of course not, it has had plenty of time to develop anti-wrinkle nebulae and botox comets!

Re:It makes perfect sense. (4, Funny)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about a year ago | (#44147145)

Our Solar System lies about it's age, like a Hollywood starlet . . . it uses the Biblical estimate and claims that it is under 10,000 years old.

So it is a relative hipster on the Universe block.

Re:It makes perfect sense. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44147301)

Actually, it is not "the Biblical estimate".
It is "a" Bibliical estimate.
As in "one among many".
The "young" earth theory is only one of many theories that exist among Christians.
To say it is "the" theory is in error and appears to be bigotry.

Re:It makes perfect sense. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44147217)

4.5 billion year olds have little patience towards the stench of humanity. Little galactic airing is always necessary.

Re:It makes perfect sense. (4, Funny)

Alsee (515537) | about a year ago | (#44147723)

You didn't think something 4.5 billion years old would have a few wrinkles?

Dude, the universe is only 6,000 years old and all the stuff about evolution and stars millions of light years away are nothing but lies straight from the pit of hell. Voyager is going to be destroyed any day now as it crashes head-on into the firmament. Hopefully in the last few seconds it can send back the sound of the flood waters being held back by the firmament.

-

Pardon me officer! (0)

Richard Dick Head (803293) | about a year ago | (#44147025)

Well, when my gas needle doesn't move, it doesn't take long for me to realize that the darned thing got stuck. Especially when the cops tap on the window and politely ask why I'm parked on the interstate

Re:Pardon me officer! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44149211)

Gas needle? You have a farto-o-meter? Neato!

Maybe its the HARDWARE (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44147039)

Maybe its the hardware starting to fail. This thing has been going for 30 years without a reboot, perhaps the sensors are starting to fail. Or maybe the signals are degraded. I mean, it already uses antiquated technology (your cellphone is 1000x more powerful) and nuclear energy is unpredictable. Maybe its time to put Voyager to pasture; we can build new, better and faster Voyager III probes running Linux (probably Android) and Solar Wind for propulsion.

Cue the Republitard-creationist onslaught of "this is proof of heaven" in 5..4..3...

Re:Maybe its the HARDWARE (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44147075)

Maybe its the hardware starting to fail. This thing has been going for 30 years without a reboot, perhaps the sensors are starting to fail. Or maybe the signals are degraded. I mean, it already uses antiquated technology (your cellphone is 1000x more powerful) and nuclear energy is unpredictable.

Really?

Maybe its time to put Voyager to pasture; we can build new, better and faster Voyager III probes running Linux (probably Android) and Solar Wind for propulsion.

Yeah, sure. Cell phones that need rebooting every few days?

Cue the Republitard-creationist onslaught of "this is proof of heaven" in 5..4..3...

Nice straw man.

Now why don't you go find the Wizard of Oz so he can give you a brain.

Better yet, find the Witch so she can set you on fire.

Re: Maybe its the HARDWARE (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44147085)

No. You as a idiottard is quite enough. Symptoms of an idiottard : Android as the answer to everything. Yes, and good luck in building something new and getting where Voyager1 is before the next idiottard says your probe is outdated and should be replaced by a new shiny probe with a newer android system. BTW : these probes are built to last and withstand the most extreme conditions, not your Samsung Android plastic junk.

Re: Maybe its the HARDWARE (1)

HiThere (15173) | about a year ago | (#44148035)

IIUC, Voyager I has long outlasted it's expected lifetime. (But I don't think that this looks like equipment failure. It's just that that's not a stupid argument.)

FWIW, I'm not sure that we can currently build things as durable as Voyager was. The circuits have gotten smaller, faster, and less power hungry...but that's not the same as durable at all. If you want durable there's a lot to be said for thick leads, e.g. And we haven't been keeping our skills up in that area. (Anything local and it's cheaper to replace it with something smaller and faster that does the same job with less power drain.)

Re:Maybe its the HARDWARE (0)

Richard Dick Head (803293) | about a year ago | (#44147107)

Cue the Republitard-creationist onslaught of "this is proof of heaven" in 5..4..3...

It's official, Voyager has hit the map boundary and is hitting the clipping wall! The Matrix is real!

She'll need cheat codes to go any further, but what is the point? There's just an endless free fall void out there! Well, maybe it'll find some unfinished part of the map that got abandoned. That would be cool.

I'm sure religion will find a way to deal. Talking in vague code is humanity's best available toolset to make our limited reasoning seem more important and profound. Like how the pain of labor was caused by an Apple "of sin", even though everyone knows how much the glans resembles an apple...no that's just too obvious and mundane of an explanation....next up, Lolordz CREATED the heavan and the earth, and failed to mention the other tinkering going on. But he didst so because it was not our place in the house of the Lolordz.

Re:Maybe its the HARDWARE (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44147341)

everyone knows how much the glans resembles an apple

Dude, get that checked out by a Doctor, seriously, that sounds problematic.

Re:Maybe its the HARDWARE (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44147695)

If this is the Matrix anyone would know that an software entity outside the program boundaries would SEGFAULT instead of traveling on a void. If the universe crashes with a blue screen (unlikely, because probably the universe runs on Linux), blame these NASA scientists.

Re:Maybe its the HARDWARE (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year ago | (#44147117)

Maybe its time to put Voyager to pasture; we can build new, better and faster Voyager III probes running Linux (probably Android) and Solar Wind for propulsion.

I would skip a few probes and go straight for Voyager 6. But be careful not to lose the "transmit data" command on some forgotten tape, or we're all screwed.

Re:Maybe its the HARDWARE (0, Flamebait)

ganjadude (952775) | about a year ago | (#44147129)

you are an idiot. sure we have more powerful tech now, but a cell phone is not hardened tech. The more a computer can do, the more bugs it can have. As for your flaimbait at the end, well your and idiot

Re:Maybe its the HARDWARE (0)

mcgrew (92797) | about a year ago | (#44147285)

As for your flaimbait at the end, well your and idiot

LOL! I love the irony. Also, I'd have never seen the AC's comment if you guys hadn't pointed to it.

I don't understand why they're so surprised at this. The sun's radiation and magnetic field isn't stationary, why would the position of the heliopause be? Seems to me that an abrupt transition or an evenly distributed transition would be surprising.

Re:Maybe its the HARDWARE (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44149133)

As for your flaimbait at the end, well your and idiot

LOL! I love the irony.

It's not really irony; this is a well known (if silly) meme.

Re:Maybe its the HARDWARE (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44147435)

Stop breathing our air more on.

Re:Maybe its the HARDWARE (4, Informative)

GLMDesigns (2044134) | about a year ago | (#44147359)

You do realize that, until very recently, all these creationists were split rather equally between both dems and reps. (The gay marriage and abortion issue pushed white evangelists into the Reps side.) The black population is over 50% creationist (and 90+ are dems) and almost 50% of those who classify themselves as liberal are creationists.

http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp/2010/05/who-are-the-creationists-by-the-numbers/#.UdBCoDu1H4s [discovermagazine.com]

Another thing to think about is that all creationists are not the same. There are they young earthers as well as those who accept that the earth is billions of years old but who think that God created life (and accept minor evolutionary change).

Re:Maybe its the HARDWARE (-1, Troll)

arth1 (260657) | about a year ago | (#44148069)

Another thing to think about is that all creationists are not the same. There are they young earthers as well as those who accept that the earth is billions of years old but who think that God created life (and accept minor evolutionary change).

There's no real difference there - both are denying evidence. Belief that a creator started evolution is belief in a rather stupid and cruel god - there are so many mistakes and workarounds that no engineer with a sane mind would have done. It's really as far out as belief that a god created fossils to be deliberately misleading. Only from a point of view of belief are the two really different; from the outside the two beliefs are as alike as two drops of water.

Re:Maybe its the HARDWARE (1)

GLMDesigns (2044134) | about a year ago | (#44149161)

Well, I understand your point but there are levels of ignoring evidence. Science does not disprove the existence of God but I think < /sarc> that science has proved that the earth is just a wee bit older than 10,000 years.

Re:Maybe its the HARDWARE (1)

arth1 (260657) | about a year ago | (#44149391)

Well, I understand your point but there are levels of ignoring evidence. Science does not disprove the existence of God but I think that science has proved that the earth is just a wee bit older than 10,000 years.

Yes, there is unquestionable evidence for the world being much older, just as there is unquestionable evidence for an evolution that wasn't designed by any rational or compassionate being. Appendix, wisdom teeth, a retina where the nerves endings are on the wrong side and makes it harder to see, exposed nerves, reflexes that makes people sneeze against the sun - I could go on and on, and that's just for humans! There are just so many errors and design flaws that claiming there's been any creator involved seems ridiculous and requires strong evidence.

Science can certainly not disprove a deity, but the evidence is strong for none being involved during our evolution. Seen from a freethinking point of view, it's about as preposterous to claim that we were created as the earth being 6000 years young. There's really no big degree of difference between the two, seen from the outside.

Re:Maybe its the HARDWARE (3, Interesting)

HiThere (15173) | about a year ago | (#44148083)

You left out the Deists, who believe that God created the universe and left it to evolve. (IIRC they never actually said that God created life, and they didn't talk about evolution, but then they were prominent before Darwin.)

OTOH, I'm not sure how many Diests are around anymore.

Re: Maybe its the HARDWARE (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44149143)

you do realize that you're full of shit? +3 Informative is extremely generous.

A creationist is a creationist. Period. Stop propagating your crap.

Re: Maybe its the HARDWARE (1)

GLMDesigns (2044134) | about a year ago | (#44149235)

I'm an atheist so I'm not shilling for creationists of any stripe. There are levels of ignorance and faith and equating a young earther with a deist or someone who believes that God stepped in creating life and man doesn't help things as well as makes for an inaccurate evaluation of the situation.

Re:Maybe its the HARDWARE (4, Insightful)

michelcolman (1208008) | about a year ago | (#44148849)

You must be joking. Why on earth would you use a complicated OS like Linux for something that just has to do one very particular job? And then have some hacker take control of it because they found a vulnerability in one of the services the probe was never intended to use anyway? Or the software crash because of some mysterious bug in some library written by some guy in his parents' basement 10 years ago?

I remember video players (tapes, early discs) that would start playing pretty much immediately after you switched them on. Nowadays, you switch on a DVD/blueray player and you get "Welcome" for about 20 seconds. Then the thing crashes every now and then so it needs a reboot. Yep, it's running some flavor of Linux. If you need reliability and efficiency, I'll take 70's technology any time.

Just program the thing directly for whatever it needs to do, using proprietary code. The code will be 1% the size and a lot more efficient.

(Not that I don't like Linux, by the way. It's great for general purpose equipment where you might actually need all of those capabilities)

Re:Maybe its the HARDWARE (1)

martinX (672498) | about a year ago | (#44149371)

"?Hardware failure" was my first thought, too. It's done well, but everything decays eventually. Maybe it has reached its 'eventually' point.

It's about to fall into a wormhole.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44147047)

Things are going to be very interesting in a few centuries...

Don't worry (3, Insightful)

TheGoodNamesWereGone (1844118) | about a year ago | (#44147063)

Vejur will be back

Re:Don't worry (2)

CastrTroy (595695) | about a year ago | (#44147143)

I think you mean "V ger". And, if I'm not mistaken, it was Voyager VI, which never actually existed. NASA only ever made Voyager I and II. And apparently slashdot doesn't let me put in multiple spaces, even if I use the HTML entity.

Re:Don't worry (0)

fnj (64210) | about a year ago | (#44147227)

...Voyager VI, which never actually existed. NASA only ever made Voyager I and II

So you think NASA is done building Voyagers for all time? You may be right, but I wouldn't rule out the rice voyagers, and maybe at some point the Persian, Indian, or African voyagers.

Re:Don't worry (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44147765)

Of course they won't, didn't anyone see Star Trek?

It aint done left this galaxy yet ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44147077)

Thought that thing would be long clear of this galaxy by now .How can it get to find anything if it aint neven left the galaxy ?

Re: It aint done left this galaxy yet ? (4, Informative)

tysonedwards (969693) | about a year ago | (#44147141)

Our galaxy is 120,000 light years across. Voyager is currently traveling 38,100 miles per hour, or 1/17600 the speed of light. As such, just to cross our galaxy, it would take 211.2 Million years. The Andromeda Galaxy is 2.54 Million light years away. Or if it were pointed towards Andromeda (it's not), it would take 44.7 Billion years to get there. Even traveling at Voyager speeds to Proxima Centari (our nearest star) would take 17600 years to get there. To recap, space is big... Really big.

Re: It aint done left this galaxy yet ? (4, Informative)

CastrTroy (595695) | about a year ago | (#44147161)

You may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist's, but that's just peanuts to space.

Re: It aint done left this galaxy yet ? (1)

fnj (64210) | about a year ago | (#44147259)

Would someone PLEASE get this heap to a speed shop! The heat death of the universe will be here before we get to the nearest ice cream hop. Jeeze. Already I need a shave and a haircut.

Re: It aint done left this galaxy yet ? (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year ago | (#44147179)

Voyager is currently traveling 38,100 miles per hour, or 1/17600 the speed of light. As such, just to cross our galaxy, it would take 211.2 Million years.

If you tried to cross our galaxy, you'd first have to compensate for the orbital speed of the Sun around the galactic center. You'd need a lot more speed to do that. (It's the same problem as with getting a solar probe close enough to the Sun.)

Re: It aint done left this galaxy yet ? (3, Interesting)

rusty0101 (565565) | about a year ago | (#44147805)

I"m trying to remember if we're going faster than our sun at the moment, or slower. Ah, well, not finding a ready reference, however a couple of back of the envelope calculations should work. The planet is in an elliptical orbit around the sun, dictated by gravity, and with no appreciable forces of acceleration affecting the planet that are not also affecting the path of the sun. (Yes that can happen, consider the possibility that the orbit of the earth passes through one of the jets of a supernova, where the jet does not directly interact with the sun. However we'd probably notice something like that, or cease to notice anything else.) Neither do we appear to be generating a field or having any reaction sources that act as a drive. I'm not suggesting that we won't ever find such, but I do not expect that we will, as I think that if the planet were doing this, or affected by such, that again, we would be able to detect it, and the best information I'm aware of doesn't indicate that we have detected such a phenomena.

In this orbit, we vary from leading the sun in it's orbit of the galaxy by approximately one AU, to trailing the sun by approximately the same distance, over the period of a year. An AU is approximately 150 billion meters, so we're looking at an orbit approximately 300 billion meters from trail, to lead. At trail and lead points in the orbit, the speed of the planet around the galaxy matches that of the sun, so the points of interest are where the orbit crosses the plane perpendicular to the orbit of the sun intersecting the line between the sun and the galactic center. These two points are inflection points in the change in apparent acceleration due to gravity where as we are moving ahead of the sun our acceleration starts decreasing, and as we move to trailing the sun our acceleration is increasing.

Now you can apply some trig to get the numbers, but it's just as easy to work out the various speeds by noting that in 6 months, the planet earth travels 300 billion meters relative to the earth, and starts with a relative velocity of zero. At 3600 seconds per hour, 24 hours per day, and 182.5 days per half year, that means that we have 15,768,000 seconds to work with. 300,000,000,000 meters divided by 15,768,000 seconds means that we on average travel 19,025.875, call it 19,026 meters per second over that half a year. To start at zero, and end at zero, that means that at the inflection points, were traveling som 38,051 meters per second faster, or slower than the sun. Call it 38 kps. (approximate) The speed of light is some 300,000 kps, so our change in velocity is just over 1/10000'th of the speed of light for that half of the orbit, or twice that 1/5000th of the speed of light for the entire orbit.

Consider the estimated distance out from the center of the galaxy that we are at, and the fact that in the presumed lifespan of the sun, just over 4.5 billion years, calculations show that the sun has made some 12 orbits of the galaxy, (i.e. approximately 300 million years per orbit) and it's trivial to show that you really don't need to 'compensate' for the orbital speed of the sun around the galactic center.

To add to the interest, I'll leave it as an exercise of the reader to discover what the change in velocity for Mercury, and Jupiter (starting point, mercury has an orbit of approx .4 au, and a period of approx 88 days, while Jupiter has an orbit of just over 5 au, and a period of 4331 days, or just under 12 years.) Which you should see that having an orbit closer to the sun results in having a _lower_ change in velocity relative to the sun, not a higher. i.e. to put a solar probe into an orbit closer to the sun, you actually need to slow down the orbital velocity of the probe, not increase it's speed. You do Accelerate the probe, however that acceleration is 'negative' with respect to it's existing orbital speed about the sun.

Re: It aint done left this galaxy yet ? (1)

rusty0101 (565565) | about a year ago | (#44147875)

And yes, I've glossed over quite a bit here. The change in velocity will also be affected by the angle of the plane of the orbit of the planet wrt the sun, compared to the plane of the orbit of the sun to the galactic core (i.e. that change in velocity will be zero should the plane of the orbit of the earth intersect the plane perpendicular to the orbit of the sun intersecting the line from sun to galactic core) and the fact that the sun's orbit of the galaxy is not co-incident with the plane of the ecliptic of the galaxy. (bit of a wobble, above and below, which some people think may have something to do with the period of global extinction level events.)

Re: It aint done left this galaxy yet ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44147253)

And that's not even accounting for the continued expansion of the universe.

Re: It aint done left this galaxy yet ? (2)

Ken Broadfoot (3675) | about a year ago | (#44147403)

How far to Milliway's? There is enough time for that, right?

Re: It aint done left this galaxy yet ? (1)

tysonedwards (969693) | about a year ago | (#44147519)

If you mean the Milky Way, that is our galaxy. As far as if there is enough time, that's all relative. If you're fine with 17,600 years to get to our next closest star then yes we have all the time in the world. If we built a new probe with the fastest engines we have today (rather than 1977 era engines), we could get there in around 10,000 years instead. As far as getting somewhere of significance outside of our own solar system within a single human lifetime, we are still a long ways away from pulling that off.

Re: It aint done left this galaxy yet ? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44147635)

whoooosh
that's the sound of everyone else heading to the restaurant at the end of the universe

Re: It aint done left this galaxy yet ? (3, Informative)

msauve (701917) | about a year ago | (#44147801)

Not the Milky Way. Milliways [wikipedia.org] , the Restaurant at the End of the Universe.

Re: It aint done left this galaxy yet ? (1)

tysonedwards (969693) | about a year ago | (#44147781)

After some further thought, an object traveling at Voyager speeds could reach Andromeda in 4 billion years, regardless of what direction it is traveling. This is more due to the significant velocities of both Milky Way and Andromeda though rather than Voyager or another object traveling at Voyager like speeds launched from Earth.

Re: It aint done left this galaxy yet ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44147901)

Or if it were pointed towards Andromeda (it's not), it would take 44.7 Billion years to get there

Voyager is several 100 km/s short of the escape velocity for the Milky Way, it isn't going anywhere outside of the galaxy without a couple of exceptionally, near perfect slingshots around stars.

Re: It aint done left this galaxy yet ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44148823)

Or if it were pointed towards Andromeda (it's not), it would take 44.7 Billion years to get there.

If you're willing to wait O(billions) of years, you don't have to go to Andromeda. Andromeda is coming to you! [nasa.gov]

solar winds have all but disappeared? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44147103)

They have all properties but one thing? Can't we at least also exclude that the solar winds turned into chicken nuggets?

consider (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44147115)

voyager has reached the edge of the petri dish.....

Not too surprising (5, Interesting)

Mr Z (6791) | about a year ago | (#44147131)

Someone else (who I think I saw here on Slashdot the last time Voyager was mentioned) had a great analogy for what we're likely seeing. I can't take credit for this at all, but I think it makes a lot of sense.

Suppose we're a small probe, making our way off an island, down the beach, and into the ocean. All we have is a wind-speed detector, and a water detector. As we near the water, waves start lapping over us. When they do, our wind-speed detector says "no wind", and our water detector says "we're wet." Have we entered the ocean yet? The answer is "not quite, but we're really darn close."

It doesn't seem surprising to me at all that the boundary neither perfectly uniform, nor stationary in time. I think we'll be in this transition band for a while.

Close, but here is a better analogy (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44147157)

Imagine a giant penis flying towards your mouth, and there's nothing you can do about it. And you're like "Oh man, I'm gonna have to suck this thing", and you brace yourself to suck this giant penis. But then, at the last moment, it changes trajectory and hits you in the eye. You think to yourself "Well, at least I got that out of the way", but then the giant penis rears back and stabs your eye again, and again, and again. Eventually, this giant penis is penetrating your gray matter, and you begin to lose control of your motor skills. That's when the giant penis slaps you across the cheek, causing you to fall out of your chair. Unable to move and at your most vulnerable, the giant penis finally lodges itself in your anus, where it rests uncomfortably for 4, maybe 5 hours.

That's what the edge of the solar system is like.

Re:Close, but here is a better analogy (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44147289)

Motor skills are controlled from the back of the brain, not from the front.

Re:Close, but here is a better analogy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44147553)

Ahh, so that's why the Donkey Punch is so effective.

So, scientifically speaking, maybe it's more like our Sun is just delivering a series of donkey punches to the Voyager?

Re:Not too surprising (2)

fermion (181285) | about a year ago | (#44147607)

What we are likely seeing is that the models we have created are incorrect. In science it is very important to be able to take in new data that is contradictory to the model. Now, it is true that V1, as it is refereed to in the papers, is only a single data point. We will have to send out other probes to confirm what the edge of our solar system is. V2 is not likely to survive long enough to give us a second data point. However, the IBEX is collected data and corroborating what V! is detecting.

So there is relative certainty that although a bow shock exists for other solar systems, it does not exist for ours. The current papers suggest that interface between the solar system and local interstellar medium is not as sharp as models suggest, but rather consists of a transition zone. This may or may not be true, but what is true is that the data we have does not fit the models, specifically that the solar particles would drop off but the magnetic fields will not change.

Could it be an artifact of the instrument? Could it be some artifact of V!? Sure, but these models we are testing have little previous verification. So it is better to let the data take us where we need to go rather than creating analogies.

Leaves us guessing (1)

Chewbacon (797801) | about a year ago | (#44147193)

We are but observers of a universe that doesn't talk. A comment in a previous article put it best (paraphrasing): I hope it smashes into a wall to leave us guessing.

Re:Leaves us guessing (4, Interesting)

TapeCutter (624760) | about a year ago | (#44147555)

You are not separate from the universe, you're part of it. One of many entities that allows the universe to observe and talk to itself. - Sagan (paraphrased).

Truman Show (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44147397)

Voyager simply reached the walls of the dome that encloses our world.

Re: Truman Show (1)

Jeff Johnston (2968595) | about a year ago | (#44147487)

Here here, not. :)

Old school still teaching! (1)

Vandil X (636030) | about a year ago | (#44147411)

I'm happy that there is still an active remnant of the "cock & balls" NASA out there that is still exploring our universe and showing the world how it's done.

Re: Old school still teaching! (1)

Jeff Johnston (2968595) | about a year ago | (#44147499)

I agree old school, lots of us do. How do we kick start the Next Generation"

Re: Old school still teaching! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44148903)

Patrick. Stewart.

it is still working? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44147455)

pretty amazing that Voyager 1 is still sending scientific data back to earth. wow. didn't realize that the fuel on board can last so long.

Re: it is still working? (3, Informative)

tysonedwards (969693) | about a year ago | (#44147917)

Plutonium lasts for quite sometime, however yes the radioisotope thermoelectric generators on board are losing wattage year over year as that plutonium decays. In 2 years, the probe will no longer have the power necessary to record it's data for transmission, and in 12 years will no longer have the power necessary to run any of its scientific instruments. It's main systems will still be able to run for decades though due to much lower wattage requirements, but without being able to provide any readings, record data or transmit it back it will be essentially dead.

Re: it is still working? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44148331)

What are the "main systems"?

How do we know it is the same magnetic field? (2)

Jeff Johnston (2968595) | about a year ago | (#44147513)

How do we know it is the same magnetic field affecting V I?

magnetic field (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44147733)

Perhaps the assumption that the orientation of the magnetic field would change, is wrong?

The end of the solar system is near!! (1)

dwheeler (321049) | about a year ago | (#44147879)

Be sure to the subject line on posters...!

It would be pretty cool if... (1)

cjjjer (530715) | about a year ago | (#44147905)

It just stopped moving one day.

Then my theory that we are just a form of entertainment like The Truman Show http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0120382/ [imdb.com] to another form of life.

Re:It would be pretty cool if... (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about a year ago | (#44148327)

The owners are having trouble building out the set fast enough to keep up with Voyager.

Anyway (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year ago | (#44148231)

These are incredibly weak influences that require unimaginable distances to have a cumulative effect. Like gas clouds that are essentially 99.9999% the same as "empty" space, but over tens of millions of miles you build up a black wall like a pointillist painting.

We are ants with a theory of 10 foot waves, and then are shocked to see one isn't glass smooth to the widh of our little foot.

tl;dr Shit be swirlin yo.

Gonna sound like a dumb question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44148247)

Any chance we are measuring hydrogen density that far out? Would be nice to know how well a bussard ramjet might work.

Kids (2)

Tablizer (95088) | about a year ago | (#44148361)

It reminds me of my kids:

Kids: "Are we there yet?"

Me: "No."

Kids: "Are we there yet?"

Me: "No! Stop asking!"

Kids: "Are we there yet?"

Me: "I don't know, we are hell fucking lost!"

Kids: "Dad, you shouldn't cuss."

Me: "Shuddup! I'm trying to concentrate!"

13th Floor (1)

infodude (48434) | about a year ago | (#44148467)

Reached the edge of the simulation?

Wrinkles? (2)

Igarden2 (916096) | about a year ago | (#44148493)

So you're telling me there's wrinkles outside Uranus ?

Solar system ... (1)

PPH (736903) | about a year ago | (#44148571)

... is old and wrinkled. And is yelling at Voyager to stay off its lawn.

Do we live in a virtual reality? (1)

mike555 (2843511) | about a year ago | (#44149043)

Perhaps the solar system is simulated and Voyager 1 just reached the edge of this simulation LOL
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