apr 182012

The Voyager 1 spacecraft is exploring the outer heliosheath past about 111 astronomical units (AU) from the Sun. The heliosheath is the region where the outgoing solar wind is slowed by the interstellar medium.

The Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 spacecraft have been sending back interesting new information about the structure of this previously uncharted boundary region at the edge of the solar system. Webber et al. now report that Voyager 1 recently observed two sudden increases in the intensity of low-energy cosmic ray electrons as the spacecraft traveled farther from the Sun.

Voyager 1

At the outer boundary of the heliosheath the electron intensity is usually assumed to be equal to that in interstellar space, outside the heliosphere. The authors suggest that the sudden changes in electron intensity are evidence of significantly different regions in the structure of the outer heliosheath. They also suggest that as of early 2012, Voyager 1 has not quite reached the undisturbed interstellar medium outside of the heliosheath.

More information: Geophysical Research Letters, doi:10.1029/2012GL051171, 2012 http://dx.doi.org/10.1029/2012GL051171

Title: “Sudden intensity increases and radial gradient changes of cosmic ray MeV electrons and protons observed at Voyager 1 beyond 111 AU in the heliosheath”

Source: American Geophysical Union (AGU) via SpaceRef .com

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