Voyager 1 has finally left our solar system, claim scientists
Researchers claim probe in now travelling through interstellar space, but Nasa is not convinced
NASA'S Voyager 1 probe has become the first manmade object ever to leave the solar system and is now travelling through interstellar space, according to researchers at an American university. They dispute Nasa’s claim that the spacecraft, launched 36 years ago, is still within the solar system. They say it crossed over in July 2012.
The disagreement centres around magnetic forces at the edge of the solar system.
Nasa scientists are still waiting for Voyager to detect a magnetic field "that flows in a different direction than the solar system's magnetic field", The Independent reports. This will tell them that the probe has left the solar system.
But researchers at the University of Maryland argue that a process of "magnetic reconnection" has taken place which means the switch in magnetism was not pronounced when the probe left the solar system - and explains why Nasa didn’t spot it.
"It's a somewhat controversial view, but we think Voyager has finally left the solar system, and is truly beginning its travels through the Milky Way," said Marc Swisdak, who is leading the Maryland team.
Voyager 1, which was launched in 1977 to go to Jupiter, has been heading out of the solar system for the past few years, travelling through a region known as the heliosheath, described by the Daily Mail as "a fuzzily-defined transition zone between the sun's sphere of influence and the rest of the galaxy".
Similar claims to that made by the University of Maryland have been dismissed in the past by Nasa, but The Guardian reports that this time it has taken a more "measured approach" to the report, published in the Astrophysical Journal.
Former Nasa scientist Edward Stone, who oversaw the launch of Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 in 1977, said: "The Voyager 1 spacecraft is exploring a region no spacecraft has ever been to before. We will continue to look for any further developments over the coming months and years as Voyager explores an uncharted frontier." ·