Voyager 2’s Notes from Interstellar Space | SciShow News


[♪ INTRO] Sending a spacecraft to explore far-off places
in the solar system is cool. But you know what’s even cooler? Sending spacecraft to explore outside the
solar system. It’s new terrain for human-made objects,
and we’ve only done it twice. But in a series of papers published this week
in the journal Nature Astronomy, scientists shared the first results from Voyager 2, the second spacecraft to break out of the
solar system, so we’re starting to learn more about what’s out there. In 1977, NASA launched the twin Voyager spacecrafts
on a daring mission to explore the outer solar system. Both flew by Jupiter and Saturn a few years later, but then, as Voyager 2 headed for Uranus and Neptune, Voyager 1 veered away from the planets and
toward interstellar space. Back in 2012, it became the first artificial
object to cross the heliopause. That’s the boundary where the Sun’s solar
wind plows into the gas and dust of interstellar space. It’s on the order of hundreds of thousands
of kilometers thick, and it’s one way astronomers define the edge of the solar system. Voyager 1 made all sorts of measurements about
what that boundary area was like, but it was hard for scientists to figure out how much those measurements said about the entire heliopause as opposed to that one spot
where it crossed. That’s what made it such a big deal when
NASA announced last November that Voyager 2 had also reached the heliopause. Now, a year later, researchers have started
to compare what the two Voyagers saw. Voyager 2 has been able to collect even more
data than its sibling because its instruments are in better condition. The new data tells us that both missions crossed
the heliopause at about the same distance: just over 18 billion kilometers for Voyager
1 and just under that for Voyager 2. That’s an important datapoint because scientists
debate how spherical the heliosphere, or area of the Sun’s influence, is. At least at these two locations, it seems
pretty symmetric. But, Voyager 2 found the boundary layer at
the heliopause to be much thinner. That might be because the Sun’s activity
is currently near a minimum, compared to the solar maximum that happened around the time Voyager 1 flew through. So maybe there was less of a buffer between
the solar system and interstellar space when the second probe passed through. Or maybe it suggests something more fundamental
about the structure of the heliosphere. After all, the two probes did spot some differences
that aren’t easily explained by the Sun’s activity. Like, Voyager 1 found patches where plasma
from interstellar space was leaking through, something Voyager 2 didn’t see at all. It turns out two data points is a heck of
a lot better than one, but also still not that many. To really understand what’s going on, we are going to need more spacecraft to study different locations. But that’s a 40-year journey, so I wouldn’t
hold your breath just yet. In the meantime, let’s look out past Voyager
to a record-setting black hole. The most common black holes astronomers find are usually five to fifteen times more massive than the Sun, while so-called supermassive ones can be literally billions of times more massive than that. But those aren’t the only black holes out
there. Physics suggests that stellar-mass black holes
can be as little as half the size we’re used to seeing. The only problem is these little ones can
be tricky to observe. They’re just tiny little black holes. They’re black holes! It’s hard to see them! Small black holes pull in less material than
bigger ones and, if they’re not feasting on anything, black holes emit basically nothing. Hence the whole “black” part. But a paper published last week in the journal
Science suggests a new way to find these little runts. And, as is often the case with black holes, scientists went looking for their effect on stuff around them. See, many stars in the galaxy are binary,
meaning they’re paired with another object and orbit a shared center of mass. If their orbit is aligned just right, we can
see these stars move toward and away from the Earth as they circle that center of mass. That forward and backward motion causes their
light to alternate between a little-too-red and a little-too-blue as their light waves
get stretched and compressed. If they know the mass of the big star and
the time it takes to orbit, astronomers can work out how much the second object must weigh. Then, it’s time to pull out the telescope. If the second object should weigh as much
as a star but there’s no star in sight, there’s a good chance it’s a black hole. Astronomers in this recent study went through
an archive of old observations, looking for giant stars that seemed to be changing color
in this predictable pattern. Then they narrowed down the search to stars
that seemed to be orbiting invisible companions, and they discovered what may be the smallest
known black hole. It most likely weighs just 3.3 times the mass
of the Sun and it could be as little
as 2.6 times the mass of the Sun. If so, that would put it just a hair over
the theoretical limit of around 2.5. Basically it’s just a little baby black
hole. It is more massive than our entire solar system, but still. Even better, the method scientists used to
make this discovery gives us a whole new way to look for tiny black holes in our galaxy! Now, when I said record-setting black hole,
you probably didn’t think I meant the “tiniest-ever.” And I’m sure I’ll be back soon with more
of the biggest, baddest stuff in the universe. But for now it’s good to give a win to the
little guys. Thanks for watching this episode of SciShow
Space, produced by us here at Complexly. We produce over a dozen shows,
including Ours Poetica, which is a co-production between Complexly, The Poetry Foundation, and poet Paige Lewis. Ours Poetica brings you a new poem three times
per week, read by poets and writers and artists, and sometimes unexpected, yet familiar, voices,
like my own. I got to do one for Halloween, and so of course
I chose The Raven by Edgar Alan Poe . It’s really fun to read and it sounds like
it’s a creepy poem but actually it’s just about how grief is inescapable. So, really just bring you up there. There’s a link in the description. [♪ OUTRO]

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Comments

  1. So the New Horizon probe will be the next one to reach the Heliopause, right? Anyone have any idea when that would be?

    EDIT: found it after some googling. New Horizons will pass out of the Solar System in 2043. Pioneer 11 will actually beat it by 16 years (2027) and Pioneer 10 will be the last to leave in 2057, but as far as I know both Pioneer probes have long since ran out of power.

  2. They each headed out in two very different directions. V2 is gonna lose the ability to adjust it's attitude soon, so it won't be possible to align it toward Earth for communications.

  3. It wouldve been cool if the voyagers had solar panels to start back up once it reaches light and send back pictures and info I know it would take long to receive the data but it would help future scientist

  4. Have you guys done an episode on a space elevator? Anyone actually thinking about that? Eliminating rockets from the equation to get engines and things into space would be a world changing thing.

  5. Question: when photons leave the sun and hurdle towards earth, does the gravity of the sun keep them from fully moving at the speed of light, at least at first?

  6. Except for the overly enthusiastic narrator this is a great clip. (I cannot stand narrators that are overly up or in their higher notes when talking. I mean, if it is not interesting while using a "serious" voice, does it become more true when using an up-pitched voice?) Still, a good clip.

  7. Using the formula to calculate schwarzschild radius, we see that a black hole of 2.6 solar masses has a radius ~7.68 km.

    amazing to think something as massive as a star could be orbiting something less then the size of a small town.

  8. It's distance, from us!? Not in our lifetime.

    Warp speed would be heart-wrenchinly awesome, because it might make it possible to find aliens not totally unlike us, and who doesn't want to have soda with them and have conversations with- hopefully friendly aliens.

  9. 5:10 – Wait. How can it be bigger than the solar system and 2.6 times the sun's mass? Shouldn't that make it about as dense as a marshmallow???

  10. U ever see a microscopic atom and electrons? U see how electrons orbit an atom? To me the universe I the same, the planets orbit a star and we r microscopic to other beings

  11. And then one day voyager will return and nearly wipe out mankind as it looks for it’s father. You can learn all about this future event in the documentary film, Star Trek the Motion Picture.

  12. Hey. Space is fake. This astro physicist just got caught lying to the public. Wake up. https://youtu.be/zoAhIsk5m9Y

  13. Quick question. It's been a long time since we launched Voyager 1 and 2. How much would it cost now to launch comparable vehicles? Is there going to be a point in my lifetime when it economically makes sense to launch Voyager 3 thru 12,000 in every direction? Sometimes it feels like we're putting out less science boxes into the universe because we want every one to be the coolest we could possibly make at a given time, but literally more Voyager class probes seems useful.

  14. The Voyager probes are in interstellar space as in outside the Heliosphere, but they are NOT outside the Solar System by the typical definition based off the zone the Sun's gravitational influence or Hill Sphere (In the case of stars like the Sun this area is more aptly known as the Oort cloud). The two metrics for defining the solar system can get quite confusing if not aware of the distinction. Usually since the Heliosphere is variable depending on the Sun's activity, the Hill Sphere of the Sun seems to be the agreed upon metric for defining the solar system boundary whereas the Heliosphere is used to define the boundary of interstellar space as stars hill spheres can overlap during close passes.

    Under this standard one can be within the solar system but in interstellar space which may seem strange until you realize that the Hill Sphere stretches halfway to the Alpha Centari system and vice versa!

  15. Man. What about sending small probes like the size of our phones,as fast as they can possibly go, all around the solar system and even some to the oort cloud. Just to get some better data

  16. If you're after the tiniest black holes, then visit the Large Hadron Collider. That's the most likely place you'll disccover micro singularities. Just watch out for Hawking Radiation.

  17. LOL !!
    KIRCHOFF, PLANCK, EINSTEIN, AND HAWKING …
    DUMBASSES…. MATHEMAGICIANS.

    NIKOLA TESLA,…
    IMMANUEL VELIKOVSKY,…
    EMPIRICAL SCINTISTS.
    THE UNIVERSE IS ELECTRIC.
    www.varchive.org
    www.plasmauniverse.info
    www.thunderbolts.info

  18. Speaking American English and using Kilometers should be lawfully considered national treason. And Pioneer 11 will cross the heliopause in 2027, followed by New Horizons in 2042. So…we won't have to wait all that long.

  19. So where are Voyager 3,4 and 5? Oh wait all the NASA budget got confiscated into the Space Shuttle program. Please let NASA do fundamental research again

  20. I remember as a teen going to watch the launch of the Voyagers. I played hooky to see on one of them. Wow, as Douglas Adams said "Space is big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist's, but that's just peanuts to space."

  21. I remember my dad yelling across the house back in 1989 "HEY! COME SEE THIS! HURRY!" It was a new close up picture of Neptune on the 10 o' clock news. Pretty big deal back then. Thank you Voyager. And thank you for for "The Pale Blue Dot."

  22. Please post explanations for astronomical phenomena such as galaxy collisions as well as the escape of stars from galaxies
    We want an explanation based on scientific evidence
    Question what is the mechanism of the hills
    I want to know how a star escapes from the galaxy?
    What are the reasons for the super speed of the fugitive star of the galaxy?
    Ask the space research team
    Click on this link to read the news of the star escape from the galaxy
    https://phys.org/news/2019-11-runaway-star-galactic-heart-darkness.html

  23. Time to pull out the telescope? Voyager heading for uranus? Massive? Black holes? Menopaus? Wtf are we talking about here, really?

  24. “Scientists can work out how much the second object must *weigh*”.
    C’mon guys, you can do better than to interchange weight and mass like that.

  25. Jesus… this video demonstrates how horrible the term "black people" really is… 23 & Me needs to step up so that we can ditch the term black for like Haitian or African or whatever…

  26. Nothing has gone beyond the Ionosphere

    I wish somebody to explain using science on how we do because nobody does they just imply we went to the moon with what proof I have science backing my statement solid evidence

  27. I keep hearing this more often, even in main stream news channel: "…left the solar system" – Just because passed through the Heliopause region closer to the Sun, does that really mean left the solar system? – is the Oort cloud still part of the solar system, which is tens of thousands of years away traveling at the speeds of the Voyager space probes?

  28. If you believe that this guy "believes" what he is telling you is TRUE , you are right. If you believe WHAT he is saying is TRUE…you are WRONG. He's a REPORTER. His job is to read a SCRIPT. His job is not to QUESTION the VALIDITY of his REPORT.

  29. "Voyagers are destined, perhaps for all eternity, to wonder
    the cosmos carrying with them the only traces of our human existence."

    Carol Meier

  30. Both crafts are being shown entering "interstellar space" at the "bow" area.
    Is this the case? That is to say, are they in our solar system's flight path around the milky way?

  31. I'm pretty sure there is no Voyager heading for MY ANUS.. gotta check that pronunciation bro go for the alternative one it's better.

  32. Isn't it funny how the Pioneer spacecraft are now forgotten? They don't want the data that they collected to be known. Can you sad "Pioneer Anomaly"? lol

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