A Cosmic Purgatory

Dec 14, 2011; 5:12 AM ET

An artist’s rendition of the Voyager 1 spacecraft.

The Voyager 1 spacecraft seems to have entered a cosmic purgatory near the outer edge of our solar system. Data shows that the solar wind is nonexistent and energized particles from outside our solar system meets the sun’s magnetic field and creates strange conditions.

These conditions are about 11 billion miles away from the sun.

This area seems to be in a battleground, a tug of war section of space, where the sun’s influence ends and seems to be grappling with the effects from outside of the solar system.

Until mid-2010, the intensity of particles originating from inside our solar system had been holding steady. But during the past year to 15 months, the intensity of these energetic particles has been declining, as though they are leaking out into interstellar space or weakening rapidly. The particles are now half as abundant as they were during the previous five years.

At the same time, Voyager has detected a 100-fold increase in the intensity of high-energy electrons from elsewhere in the galaxy diffusing into our solar system from the outside.

Launched in 1977, Voyager 1 and 2 are in good shape. Voyager 2 is 9 billion miles away from the sun.

via AccuWeather.com – Astronomy | A Cosmic Purgatory.

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