New Horizons Just Found Hints of a Huge Structure on the Edge of our Solar System

New Horizons Just Found Hints of a Huge Structure on the Edge of our Solar System

Recent findings of the New Horizons strengthened the Heliosphere theory which was originally suggested by the Voyager 1.

New evidence of the mysterious ‘Wall’ encircling the planets and other objects in our solar system has surfaced. This mysterious bubble is a boundary between the solar system and the interstellar space which identifies where the sun’s influence wanes. Current findings indicate that the barrier has a vast number of hydrogen atoms which came here by traveling with the solar wind of our star. The distinct waves of ultraviolet light, produced by them, have been detected by the New Horizons interplanetary space probe. It extends the ‘Heliosphere Theory’ which was initiated following the detection of this phenomenon by the Voyager about three decades back.

NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft passed Pluto in 2015 using ‘Alice’, its onboard detector as it searched for traces of the celestial interaction. Leslie Young, a Scientist from the New Horizons team, informed the ‘Science News’ about their finding and said

“We’re seeing the threshold between being in the solar neighborhood and being in the galaxy.”

Having scanned the ultraviolet sky seven times between 2007 and 2017, New Horizons is the first spacecraft that has the capacity and the tools needed to accurately verify the observations of the Voyager. The measurements that have been taken by all three spacecraft verify that the 30-year old Heliosphere theory still holds true. A representative of NASA explained that in the following words:

“Both sets of data are best explained if the observed ultraviolet light is not only a result of the scattering of sunlight by hydrogen atoms within the solar system but includes a substantial contribution from a distant source. This distant source could be the signature of a “wall” of hydrogen, formed near where the interstellar wind encounters the solar wind or could be more distant. Similar future observations from New Horizons are planned about twice each year.”


New research supports the theory that there is more UV light beyond the location of the wall surrounding our solar system. David McComas, a Space Scientist at the Princeton University, who wasn’t involved with the research mentioned that it will be an exciting development if these data are able to distinguish the hydrogen wall. New Horizons is now on-track to fly past a recently discovered, less than 30-mile-wide object known as 2014 MU69, in 2019 which orbits the sun nearly 1.6 billion kilometers beyond Pluto, in the frozen twilight zone known as the ‘Kuiper Belt’. This extended mission has been recently approved and the craft is expected to reach the object on 1st January 2019.

Scientists believe that MU69 is a good middle ground as it is 10 times larger and 1,000 times more massive than average comets, including the one being orbited right now by Europe’s Rosetta spacecraft. Having said that, it is barely 1 percent the size of the Pluto and perhaps one-ten-thousandth the mass of the dwarf planet. According to Randy Gladstone of the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, the New Horizons will fly past the most distant object within the solar system, Ultima Thule, on the New Year’s Day in 2019. The mission will reach its conclusion in about ten to fifteen years continually looking for the wall roughly twice a year. The researchers’ state that a drastic decrease in the detection of UV light will indicate that the craft has left the wall behind just like Voyager 1 in 2013.

Currently, Voyager 1 is traveling northward through space, 13 billion miles away from the Earth. Data recently sent back to NASA by the probe shows that interstellar space cosmic rays are as much as four times more abundant than in the vicinity of our planet. Thus the region of space that contains our solar system’s planets, the Heliosphere, may act as a radiation shield. Having traveled through a turbulent place where electrically charged particles from the Sun collide with the thin gas from interstellar space, Voyager 1 has gotten to the final frontier of our solar system.

In the meantime, Voyager 2 is now at a distance of eleven billion miles from Earth and is traveling south towards the interstellar region. The contrasting locations of the two spacecraft have been chosen to allow scientists to compare two vastly different regions of space. It is hoped that it will allow scientists to better understand where and how the Heliosphere interacts with the interstellar medium. Once Voyager 2 crosses into the interstellar medium, scientists will be able to sample the medium from two different locations at the same time.

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