Somewhere outside the edge of our solar system, roughly 14 billion miles from Earth, a NASA space probe heard an unexpected, continuous noise. This noise is now helping researchers to understand the matter of the deep universe.
The space probe that made the discovery was Voyager 1. It blasted into space in 1977 and is now the most mobile space object ever built by humans. So it is currently located about 23 billion kilometers from Earth. More than 150 times the distance from our planet to the sun. His mission was to study the planets in our solar system on his way out, but in 2012 he flew out of that solar system and since then he flew into the depths of the universe and still – miraculously – contributes to research.
The final measurement of the data was discovered by scientists at Cornell University in the United States. Previously, something was sometimes measured very far away, but this was possible thanks to the revolutions of the Sun. These provide shockwaves through space, which the Voyager can absorb. This means something can actually be said about the density of space. Now they find continuous vibration, dating back to 2017, and they can see that the intensity varies.
This tells us something about the material that the Solar System is actually going through. Not everyone will think about this, but our solar system is moving through space at a speed of about 720,000 kilometers per hour. What is happening exactly? Is the density of this substance the same or is it variable? Is this everywhere or only in some parts?
The chance that we will someday test that a space probe will be able to take measurements so far is slim. It takes a long time to get there. Voyager took off in 1977 and left the solar system in 2012. Then it flew for another 9 years. So we hope it will last for a while and thanks to this old man we will soon learn more about the vibrations and changes in the Profound Universe.
It is in this sound that you can hear astronomer Flores van der Tak (RUG and SRON). Read more here: As NASA’s Voyager 1 explores interstellar space, measurements of its intensity create waves.