On November 5, 2018, NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft became the second human-made object to cross into interstellar space. Now, scientists have shared the initial science gained by Voyager 2’s historic crossing.
However, just because the probes have left the heliosphere doesn’t mean they have left our solar system. That boundary is located at the outermost edge of the Oort Cloud, a group of small objects influenced by the gravity of our sun. Scientists believe it would take Voyager 2,300 years to reach the inner edge of the cloud, and 30,000 years to fly past it completely.
A suite of five studies detailing the findings was published Monday in the journal Nature Astronomy.
Lessons from interstellar space
There’s a boundary where hot solar wind meets cold interstellar space, and it’s called the heliopause. Mission scientists compared data from instruments on Voyager 2 to determine that the actual date of the crossing was November 5, when the solar wind particles around the probe dipped greatly, meaning it left the heliosphere – the sun’s bubble-shaped boundary created by solar wind being released from the star.