View Full Version : Bad Astronomy/Bad Journalism/Bad Press Release: Voyager 1's "Exit"

2013-Mar-20, 09:05 PM
Utter nonsense! All caused by one idiotic press release, prompting a response from NASA/JPL:

“The Voyager team is aware of reports today that NASA’s Voyager 1 has left the solar system,” said Edward Stone, Voyager project scientist based at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, Calif. “It is the consensus of the Voyager science team that Voyager 1 has not yet left the solar system or reached interstellar space. In December 2012, the Voyager science team reported that Voyager 1 is within a new region called ‘the magnetic highway’ where energetic particles changed dramatically. A change in the direction of the magnetic field is the last critical indicator of reaching interstellar space, and that change of direction has not yet been observed.”

Link: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?release=2013-107

A good summary of the nonsense: John Matson/Scientific American (http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/2013/03/20/voyager-1s-whereabouts-no-news-but-plenty-of-noise/)

2013-Mar-21, 07:46 AM
Well, it all depends on interpretation of the data.
Apparently the Voyager team wants to see a change in magnetic field direction, however if that would be the main indicator then we would be hard pressed with the Earth's magnetopause, which is the boundary at which the Earth's influence is "gone".

The message at the AGU website (http://www.agu.org/news/press/pr_archives/2013/2013-11.shtml) links to this paper in GRL (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/grl.50383/abstract). The last line of the abstract reads: The suddenness of these intensity changes indicate that V1 has crossed a well-defined boundary for energetic particles at this time possibly related to the heliopause.I should read the paper first, but the figures show significant differences in the particle populations before and after the crossing of the boundary.

Naturally it would be nicer for the Voyager team if there was a "new and unexpected region" in the heliosphere, the so-called "magnetic highway" which IMHO has similarities (but not the same) with the Earth's mangetosheath outside the magnetopause.

2013-Mar-22, 07:30 AM

XKCD: Number of times Voyager has "left the Solar system" (mouse over for the alt text)

2013-Mar-22, 09:26 PM
Suffice it to say that Voyager will be in the process of leaving the solar system for some years--like a snail in the intertidal/littoral zones

When it leaves the Oort--that's leaving the system--and we won't see that for--gee...how long? We and Voyager will be gone.