Phil PlaIt tells us that Voyager 1 has apparently left the solar system. Wo.
The spacecraft Voyager 1, launched on Sep. 5, 1977, has apparently left the solar system.
A new paper has just been released showing that Voyager 1 has definitely breached the edge of the Sun’s heliosphere, the huge region around the solar system dominated by the Sun’s solar wind. This is essentially confirmation of what had already been announced in December 2012, so this isn’t exactly new news, but given the paper has been peer-reviewed and accepted for publication, this makes it official.
Still apparently, but official. I like the inclusion of “apparently” – it nudges us outsiders into grasping that this isn’t like seeing Elvis leave the building.
So where is it now? Well, we have to be careful. This is literally unexplored territory. Most models of how the heliosphere works have a fuzzy boundary between inside and outside (though Voyager 1 is definitely outside). There could be another region outside of that, for example, though no one is sure. More data from Voyager 1 may be able to clear that up over time.
But either way, it has slipped the surly bounds of the Sun’s influence and is still moving with enough velocity to carry it out into the galaxy. Our proxy, our envoy, is now amongst the stars, where it belongs.
Exciting. Plus I like the friendly shout-out to Surly Amy.