The legendary NASA spacecraft enters ‘magnetic highway’
At around 18 billion kilometres (11 billion miles) from Earth, Voyager 1 is the furthest man-made object from
Earth and has been for some time.
It’s also set to become the first manmade object to leave the Solar System, as it enters a region at the outer boundary known as the magnetic highway, a smooth lane along which charged particles can travel, which scientists are only now able to investigate properly.
“This strange, last region before interstellar space is coming into focus, thanks to Voyager 1,” said Voyager project scientist Ed Stone. “If you looked at the cosmic ray and energetic particle data in isolation, you might think Voyager had reached interstellar space, but the team feels Voyager 1 has not yet gotten there because we are still within the domain of the Sun’s magnetic field.”
Within the magnetic highway, scientists are able to observe the highest rate of charged particles from outside the heliosphere, which marks the boundary of the Solar System, and the disappearance of charged particles from within the heliosphere.
It’s not certain how much further
Voyager 1 still needs to travel before it leaves the Solar System and reaches interstellar space, but it could take anything from a few months up to a few years.