This still image and set of animations show NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft exploring a new region in our solar system called the "magnetic highway." In this region, the sun's magnetic field lines are connected to interstellar magnetic field lines, allowing particles from inside the heliosphere to zip away and particles from interstellar space to zoom in. Image released Nov. 29, 2012.
NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft has discovered a new layer of the solar system that scientists hadn't known was there, researchers announced today (Dec. 3).
Voyager 1 and its sister probe Voyager 2 have been traveling through space since 1977, and are close to becoming the first manmade objects to leave the solar system.
Scientists haven't been sure exactly when that exit would occur, and now say the spacecraft are likely in the outermost region of the solar system, which is defined by the extent of the heliosphere, the large bubble of charged particles the sun puffs out around itself. Voyager 1, in particular, has entered a new region of the heliosphere that scientists are calling a "magnetic highway," which allows charged particles from inside the heliosphere to flow outward, and particles from the galaxy outside to come in.